Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I'm really excited to share one of my latest projects with you: Homemade Vanilla Extract.

Vanilla Extract is compose of two ingredients: Vodka and Grade B Vanilla Beans.

One of the many things I love about this project is that it's inexpensive. Also, if you like to bake as much as I do, you know Vanilla Extract is an essential in your pantry. To this day, one of the gifts I remember most from my parents is a bottle of Vanilla Extract from Mexico.

Ready to get started? Here's what you'll need:

1. Vodka (I got the cheap stuff, but use whatever you'd like.)
2. Grade B Vanilla Beans (I got Tahitian, rather than Madagascar Bourbon, for no particular reason, from this seller on ebay.)
3. Bottles (I bought amber-colored 8 oz bottles locally from Mountain Mama Natural Foods.)
4. Full page shipping label paper (shown below, bought at Walmart)

So here's what you do:

1. Prepare three vanilla beans for each 8 oz jar you'll be using. In order for the beans to fit into the jars I chose, I had to cut an inch or so off of the ends (I put them aside for use in my grandfather's homemade Kahlua). Then, I took my kitchen shears and split them up the middle, leaving the tops connected, rather than splitting them all the way.
2. Put the beans in the jar. Using a funnel, fill the jar with vodka.
3. Place the cap back on and set aside in a cool place and give it a good shake once a week. Do this for two months, when it will be ready for use. Top off with more vodka as needed - those little beans will keep on doin' work for you.

I wanted to be able to use whatever I bought for labels in a creative way, so instead of messing with a predetermined size, I bought the full sheet shipping labels. This way, I could cut them into ovals, or hearts, or stars (or rectangles, which I ended up doing anyway). But I can also use them in different ways for different projects. I'm good with that.

I used the business card template in my word processing software (Pages for Mac), which gave me the approximate size label I was looking for. I imported a picture of my son, chose the font I liked (Courier), rearranged a few things, and came up with the label you see.

There you go! Homemade Vanilla Extract. Here's the cost breakdown per bottle:

Vodka: 1.06
Vanilla Beans: 0.55
Label: 0.07
Bottles: 1.40
Total: 3.08

Have you seen how expensive store-bought Vanilla Extract is? This is a deal! (And you could save even more money if you find cheaper bottles - which I didn't have any luck with.)

You still have time to make these as Christmas gifts. Enjoy!