Hey there! Happy January 2015. Feels like the holidays ended really quickly, but we do still have our tree up in our living room 🙂 haha
This Holiday season felt extra special for a few reasons. One is because it was my first Christmas as a married woman, and my husband and I had so much fun together just relaxing and being festive in our new home. The other reason is that somehow, somewhere, just before Christmas I got a craving for making homemade stuff, and that craving has been growing and growing. To feed this craving I made some homemade gifts for my family and friends, and it felt really great to put creative energy into making things I knew other people would be able to use and enjoy.
The first thing that I made was probably the easiest. Homemade vanilla extract! There are lots of recipes online for this and here is one that inspired me.
Most recipes I read call for two ingredients:
1) some kind of alcohol like vodka or rum
2) vanilla beans
I didn’t find totally consistent ratios of vanilla beans to alcohol from recipe to recipe. About the most consistent I found was to use 3-5 vanilla beans for every 8 ounces (1 cup) of alcohol. I got a bottle of vodka that was 750ml (25 oz) and I used 10 vanilla beans, which is around 3 vanilla beans per 8 ounces. I found some vanilla beans on sale at my local grocery store. At regular price they were $7.99 CAD for 2 vanilla beans, but it looks like it’s way less expensive to get them in bulk from amazon.
To make this, the only thing you have to do is slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and then put them into the vodka. Then you just let it sit for a minimum of a month, and shake it every so often, like once a week, or whenever you feel like dancing in your pantry with some vodka and vanilla beans 🙂 Store it in a cool, dark place.
I wanted to make this in the easiest way possible, so instead of getting a separate bottle to pour the vodka into and then putting the vanilla beans into that bottle, I skipped a step and put the vanilla beans right into the bottle of vodka.
I compared the smell to some pure vanilla extract I had bought from the store and this homemade version does have a fresher and more sweetly pungent smell to it, plus it’s made with love. I already used some in some baking and I definitely felt more appreciation for it, knowing how it was created. 🙂
Two things I want to do differently next time I make it are to use a few more vanilla beans and let it sit longer, even up to 6 months, as apparently the flavour gets stronger with age. Once the vanilla beans are removed from the extract it will continue to mature indefinitely. So if you want to get a very early start on a homemade gift for next Christmas, now wouldn’t be a bad time to start 😀
- A bottle of vodka 750ml (25 oz)
- About 10-15 Vanilla Beans
- Ratio: About 5 Vanilla beans for every 8 ounces (1 cup) of alcohol
- Slice your vanilla beans in half lengthwise.
- Put the vanilla beans into your bottle of vodka, then close and store it in a cool, dark place.
- Let it sit for a minimum of 4 weeks and up to 6 months, and shake it once a week.
- Once it's ready you can use a funnel and pour it into smaller bottles to give as gifts.
- Rum, bourbon, or brandy can be used in place of vodka.
- There are several kinds of vanilla beans with their own unique flavours that can be played with such as madagascar, mexican, tahitian.
- Have fun creating with your own style and flavour.