This year I am planning on giving as many homemade Christmas gifts as possible. It started as an attempt to be more frugal during the holidays, but after our first “gift making session” when the girls and I made Homemade vanilla extract, I saw that the time we spent together as a family making these gifts was a gift in its self.
Making the vanilla extract was easy, I mean super easy! The hardest part is waiting for the extraction process to complete. After searching the internet high and low, I found you will never regret making your vanilla with the highest quality vanilla beans. The best price I found was on Amazon, I purchased Madagascar Bourbon Planifolia Extract Grade B Vanilla Beans 6~7″ and was extremely happy with my purchase, the beans were fragrant and loaded with juicy seeds. I bought a 1/2 lb. package of beans for $19.49, this was a much greater value than I could have picked up locally, I have found individual vanilla beans at grocery stores anywhere between $4-$8.00 each! You will only need a 1/4 Pound of Madagascar Bourbon Beans
for a quart of vodka. Because this is to be gifted I also bought Boston Round Bottles, 4 Oz Pack of 12 to make my extracts in, if I was making it for myself I would just do it right in the vodka bottle.
The vodka I purchased was Svedka, I do not know a lot about vodka, but the guy at the liquor store told me it is one of the cleanest value brands available. You will want a neutral flavored vodka, so the vanilla flavor can really shine through when the extraction process is complete. My bottle of vodka cost around $10.00, if you add the bottles, and vanilla my 12 gifts are coming in at around $35.00, or about $3.00 each, not to bad for a homemade gift that the recipient will most likely find useful.
The biggest problem I ran into was my daughter in charge of pouring the vodka from the measuring cup into the jars could not see over the funnel, and we had to make a second trip to the liquor store to get more to replace the vodka that spilled.
Homemade vanilla extract is far superior to it's store counterpart. Only 2 ingredients are needed to make a high quality vanilla extract, it takes about 8 weeks for the extraction process to complete, but it is well worth the wait!
- 1 Quart Quality Vodka
- 1/4 pound Vanilla Beans
- Use a knife to cut each bean, then split each bean in half, resulting in 4 sections from each bean.
- Place 6 vanilla bean sections in your glass bottle or jar and cover with vodka.
- Close jar or bottle and store in a cool, dry place for at least 8 weeks.
- Give the bottle a shake every week or so. As you use the vanilla, simply add in more liquor to replace what you have used, any bean parts above the vodka in the jar could become a source for mold growth, and contaminate the whole bottle, so keep the beans covered with vodka!
Useful Links if you want to make your own vanilla extract at home too:
Vanillareview.com- an excellent site with loads of information on making your own vanilla extract. Also sections on Cinnamon, Pepper and Paprika.
The Extraction Process:
I had a little vodka left over, I kept it in the bottle and threw some beans in so I could get a better idea of what is going on in the brown jars, I have been checking on it daily and it has been interesting watching it change.