I know, I know… It's still September and we are more worried about apple pie and getting ready for ghouls and goblins, but this fabulous neighbor gift takes some time to make. Homemade vanilla extract is not only elegant and refined, but simple to create for yourself. Don't be scared… it's not laborious hours pressing each and every vanilla bean. All you have to do is make a simple concoction and then let is SIT.
I have spent countless hours watching cooking show after cooking with the host always saying, "make sure you use only the best vanilla!" For years I was perplexed. How on earth am I supposed to know what the "best vanilla" is? I have now found out… the best vanilla is the vanilla that you make yourself. Here is what you will need…
- Whole Vanilla Beans – I recommend ordering them online, it's way more cost effective. I ordered mine from Beanilla Trading Company. I decided on the beans from Madagascar.
- Vodka – I used the cheapest Vodka I could find. In all of my research, many people say it really doesn't matter. Now, here is the caveat… I don't drink so I don't really know the quality of my vodka vs. other kinds so if you know vodka better you may have more of a preference.
That's it… other than packaging, but I am going to save that post for another day. Here is what you need to do.
First, you need to carefully slit your vanilla beans length wise starting just below the tip of the bean…
My beans were rather long so I also cut them in half. Then all you need to do is add your beans to your vodka. Here is the ratio to follow…
2 large vanilla beans to 1 cup of vodka
If your beans tend to be on the puny side, I would use 3 beans per cup of vodka. Place your split beans in your liquid, seal and then store in a cool, dark place like a pantry.
Give it a good shake every few days and after 2-3 months you will have a lovely homemade vanilla. Obviously, the longer you let it sit,it will become darker and more developed. After your desired amount of time run your new vanilla through a strainer and a couple of layers of cheese cloth and then package it up.
I am planning on keeping a bottle for myself and then packaging some fun bottles to give away to family and friends for the holidays!
Here is my cost breakdown…
- Vodka – $1.35 per cup
- Vanilla Bean – $1.10 per bean
- Bottle – $1.00
The bottles I am using hold about a cup of liquid so the total cost for one bottle is $4.55. I will be generous and round up for other packaging needs like printing, fabric, bottle embellishments and such and I will say my total is, $5.00! Not bad for an elegant and thoughtful gift for family, friends, teachers and such for the holidays!!8