Change is in the air, I can feel it! It’s still pushing 100 degrees in Southern California, but Fall is nipping at our heels, and pretty soon, we’ll be in the thick of Winter.
I leave my house at 6:30 AM every morning to go to work, and lately I can really see the seasons changing. This time seems to be the perfect time to observe fall coming closer and closer on the daily. The sun rises later and later every day. Right now it’s about two fingers above the horizon when I’m on my way to work. Come Tuesday, (because this Monday is Labor Day), I’m sure my drive will afford me a spectacular witnessing of a sunrise. That doesn’t happen quite often enough, does it? To witness one is rare, at least for me, and I’m looking forward to it!
My point with all this, is that we have 23 days until Fall. If you want to start making vanilla extract as Christmas Gifts, now it the time!
Last year, I had this idea, but I had it at the beginning of December – way too late. Now, I’m here to help you out and remind you to get on it!
Here’s how I made mine:
First, you must procure vanilla beans. This takes longer than the other ingredients because grocery stores typically don’t sell vanilla beans in bulk. You want a grade B vanilla bean. You may think, “Why not grade A vanilla beans?” After doing a bit of research, grade B vanilla beans contain less moisture, which means that less water gets in your vanilla extract, which is apparently preferable. I’m sure whatever bean you use, it’s going to be better than any stuff you’d buy in the store! I used 1/8 pound of Madagascar Bourbon Planifolia Extract Grade B Vanilla Beans. I mistakenly bought a whole pound, so there may be more extract to be made. Perhaps they will make it into a batch of beer!
Next, buy one of those 1.5 liter jugs of vodka – I used Absolut, and procured 12 fancy bottles with self capping lids, with a 4 ounce capacity. I’m an Ideeli fan girl through and through, and when I saw these beautiful bottles, I knew that I had to have them for this project! I’m sure you can find cool bottles at places like Pier 1 Imports or Cost Plus World Market. Make sure you wash the bottles well the night before, and let them dry overnight.
They say that you don’t need to split the beans down the middle, but I think it makes for nice presentation. Plus, I just like to see all that “caviar” inside. It’s cool! I then cut them in half, so they fit into the bottles, then stuffed them, carefully pouring the vodka over. I didn’t have a funnel, so I used a Pyrex liquid measuring cup to carefully pour the vodka. It worked like a charm, and now I know I still have my steady hand. WIN!
It’s as easy as that, you’re done! All you have to do, is wait a couple months, shaking the bottles every so often, and come Christmastime, you’ve got yourself some great artisan gifts to give your loved ones. To me, there is nothing better than giving a gift of craft for the holidays.
Happy Vanilla Making!
- ⅛ pound Madagascar Bourbon Planifolia Extract Grade B Vanilla Beans (about 2½ - 3 beans per bottle)
- 1.5 Liters Vodka
- 12 Four Ounce Bottles
- Wash bottles, rinse well, and let dry overnight.
- Split and halve Vanilla beans.
- Place them in the bottle, then pour in vodka.
- Let sit for two months or more, shaking them every so often.
- Give as Christmas Gifts!