For Christmas last year I wanted to give my sister-in-law a homemade present. She is very talented at sewing, panting, and is crafty overall. ( I strongly suggest checking out her Facebook page, Simple Creations By Andrea, and blog http://www.simplecreationsbyandrea.blogspot.com/ ) I knew that she would appreciate a homemade present.
I am in no way talented when it comes to sewing (you can ask my high school home economics teacher) and not near as crafty as I want to be. My talents are in the kitchen. I looked online for some ideas and started reading about homemade vanilla extract. I found some startling facts about store bought extracts. Be sure to check the labels; some have corn syrup or other additives in the ingredients. Plus, it’s not real cheap. I soon realized that vanilla extract is very easy to make, and I knew that Andrea was enjoy using it.
So, I decided right away that that would be her Christmas present.
The first step was finding some vanilla beans. You DO NOT want to use any vanilla beans that you find at the grocery store. You will not end up with good results. Instead, look online or a health foods store. I bought a pack of 25 Madagascar vanilla beans from Beanilla (http://www.beanilla.com/madagascar-vanilla-beans?gclid=CJGtr77UiLUCFQ45nAodLGgAhg).
Next, get some vodka. You will need 8 ounces for every 5 beans. The quality of the vodka doesn’t matter. Go for the stuff that is cheapest.
Last of all, a glass jar and lid.
Here’s the recipe and steps for the vanilla extract:
2. Using a sharp knife, cut each bean in half and then each half length wise (like a hotdog bun) being sure to leave a small amount intact at the end.
3. Place the vanilla beans in the glass jar and cover completely with the vodka. You will need 5 beans (10 halves) for every 8 oz of vodka. You can split this up into multiple jars or put it all into one jar.
4. Close the jar and store in a cool, dry place for at least 8 weeks. Give the bottle a good shake once a week.
That’s it. How easy is that? Plus, your hands will smell really nice after cutting the beans. When the 8 weeks are up, the extract is ready. You can keep the beans in the vodka or remove them. If you keep them in the vodka, be sure to add a little vodka every so often so the beans don’t dry up.
This extract is a little stronger than store bought, so you may want to slightly decrease the amount when using it in recipes. I love adding it to yogurt, coffee, and homemade ice cream.
I kept some of this for myself and gave the rest to Andrea. Now I need to come up with another idea for next year. Let me know if you have any homemade gift ideas. And keep in mind, no sewing allowed.