It turns out that Christmas is four months away and for me that means a couple of things. First, start my searches for ideas for gifts and second, start the process for my homemade vanilla extract.
Last year I came across a brilliant idea for DIY/homemade gifts which included ‘brewing’ (i guess that’s what you call it) your own vanilla extract. Something I didn’t even know that you could do on your own. Turns out you can. And to top it off it’s exceptionally easy as well as inexpensive. For organic vanilla extract you are going to pay around $10.00 for good quality extract. $10.00 for 4 ounces! I mean hello! White truffle oil is $16.00 for 12 ounces.
My extract costs me vodka ($8.00) and vanilla beans ($7.00). That’s $15.00 for 750 ml or 25 ounces. It turns out to be $0.60 and ounce. So my 4 ounce bottle costs $2.40. It’s an amazing money saver. And it makes a great Christmas gift.
So here we go for the tutorial!
1. Vodka. A cheap vodka is perfectly fine. Try and not go beyond 80 proof for this as it does not allow the vanilla to permeate the vodka as well. You also need a brown or green tinted wine bottle for the extraction process. Luckily I saved a couple this year.
2. THE VANILLA! For a 750 ml bottle of extract you are going to need 9 vanilla beans. I purchased mine at our local Vitamin Cottage for $2.33 for 3. Not too bad. Except that it turns out to be $116/lb!
3. Using a cutting board, cut the beans lengthwise so that they are opened but not cut all the way through. As if you were dissecting them. I scrape out a little of the pulp so that it doesn’t build up too much in the bottle but you can also just leave it all there. A matter of preference.
4.Next you can either cut the bean into pieces or leave them be. I like cutting them in half because it allows them to move around the bottle freely.
5. Add to your clean and empty wine bottle. Then add in the vodka.
6. Be sure not to fill far beyond where the wrapped extends to.
You can see that mine is just below the lowest part of the wrapper. This is essential. Cork the bottle firmly but not pushing it all the way in. Just far enough that it’s secure.
Lastly…(my favorite part) the shaking. After the bottle is corked shake vigorously so that the beans and the pulp are circulated through the vodka. For the first week do this twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. Place the bottle in a cool dark place, mine is in my pantry so that I don’t forget to shake it. After the first week and for the next three weeks shake at least once a day. For the second month a couple times a week will do. Months three and four you can do it once a week. For vanilla extract to properly mature it needs to ‘brew’ between four to six months. Feel free to open the bottle whenever you want and just smell…this is the best part of the process. Mostly I did it to brag to Mr. Wonderful about my amazing talents as a homemaker….yeah right.
When you are happy with the strength of the extract simply pour the extract through a coffee filter to filter out all of the pulp and place into jars! You can click here for lovely printouts for gift tags.
Here are mine from last year!
These bottles are from Michaels and hold around 3-4 ounces and they were only $1.20! They even come with their own corks. And believe me the women in my family were very happy with my little gift. I still have some leftover in my own pantry. I haven’t bought vanilla extract in a year.
Aren’t they adorable!!