Don’t you just love it when the UPS man comes with a package that you’ve been watching for? One time he brought us an empty box – because someone stole the game system that was in said box. BUT, that’s another story for another time! THIS is what he brought me yesterday.
Why am I making vanilla extract? Three reasons…
- Because I can. And it sounds fun. I got that whole “I can make this” thing from my mom. She’s very proud right now as she reads this.
- Spoiler alert: These will be my Christmas gifts. I made a little promise to myself that I would never get my kids’ teachers another mug or apple decoration for Christmas. Ever. So, I try to do fun things that they can actually use. They, along with some of our other friends, will be getting my homemade vanilla for Christmas this year. I’m excited about this fun idea. Yes, I know it’s only September. Yes, the next three months will fly by. No, I will not be stressed when I’m trying to honor the birth of our Savior this year.
- I’m tired of paying through the nose for good vanilla to bake with. And, call me a food snob, but I hate the imitation vanilla. (Another reason my mom is proud of me.) To borrow a phrase from my friend’s preschooler (aka The Happy Tornado), “I can do it myself.” And I will. Thank you very much.
You can to. Here’s how. You’ll need vanilla beans, some vodka, and a large, glass jar with a lid. Yes, sweet mommy friends. I said vodka. The kind that has alcohol in it.
- Order some yummy vanilla beans. I got both Madagascar and Tahitian. I ordered from Vanilla Saffron Imports after reading a recommendation online. I was happy with the service and price. The jury is still out on the end product but the reviews were very favorable.
- Buy some vodka. I did a fair amount of online research (aka puttering) and I’m pretty certain that it can be cheap vodka. It just needs to have a 40% alcohol content. (And, btw, let this be a lesson to you. Never judge the woman leaving the grocery store with two brown, paper, bottle-shaped bags in hand. You just never know what she might be up to… )
- Take 3 vanilla beans for every one cup of vodka. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife, cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half and leaving an inch at the end connected. Put the beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid. Cover completely with the vodka.
- Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Maybe when you’re having a bad day or you want to yell at your kids. Just go shake your vanilla instead. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer.
- When you’re ready, transfer to cute 2 oz bottles using your handy-dandy kitchen funnel. (Have I ever told you how much I love my kitchen funnels?) Next, tie on some rafia, and give it as a fun gift to someone you love! Don’t just think Christmas. These would make great hostess gifts when you have dinner at a friend’s, too. I think I might try to make some fun, little labels for mine. (This is the point in my post where Rick rolls his eyes because he knows that “fun, little labels” is code for more puttering online.)
There you have it. My Saturday project is well under way.
And, I still have plenty of time to get everyone ready to go watch the man-child’s rainy day football game. Go Riders!
Oh, and here’s a little bonus tip if you’d like to get more bang for your buck with the vanilla beans. You can also make vanilla sugar by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar of white, granulated sugar. It’s a great way to infuse the sugar with vanilla flavor for baking.