I know, I know, you don’t want me to say this but…. the Holidays are just a few months away. It’s September, and I am reminded that I need to start a few things now in order to be ready for gift giving. The time is now to start my homemade vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is an easy gift to make. It takes a little forethought, but very little time to prepare. I give these out at holiday time as a hostess gift when we have been invited to home, for that friend who loves to bake, or to a neighbour in a basket of fresh-baked goodies. I’ve been making my own vanilla for years. Two years ago, I stepped my little project up a notch after searching for labels for small storage jars. I came across a company called My Own Labels and on their site they feature customers who used their products and what they do with them. Voila, just what I was looking for. The label company linked this blog “The Italian Dish” and my little vanilla gifts jumped up ten notches. There are many different choices for labels to order, but I loved the look of the ones she made. My suggestions are you buy a few extra labels, (the labels get less expensive the more you buy), but do not put the date on the label. I originally made enough vanilla for 2011, and 2012 for personal use and gifts. However, when I made this batch, I realized that I made a rookie mistake by adding a date to my labels. So 2013’s batch of vanilla is dated 2011, I’m sure my gift recipients won’t mind. If you want the date somewhere on the bottle I suggest you use a black sharpie and write it on the bottom of the jar. Of course, if you are crafty enough you can make your own labels at home if you like, and cut to fit the size of your jar. Just be prepared that the ink may run with wet hands from baking or vanilla dripping down the side of the label.
In the above picture you can see that the color of the vodka has started to caramelize after just a few days, but the flavour will take more time, approximately 6-8 weeks.
- Bottle of vodka
- vanilla beans* – 1-2 per jar ( I usually use 2 beans per bottle although it works with 1)
- 4oz jars glass Boston Round * Specialty Bottle Company
- funnel that fits in small jars
- knife for cutting vanilla beans
- Optional * 1 quart size canning jar or large container with cover of your choice
1. Sterlize all equipment. (I boil everything in a big pot for 10 min then let air dry and cool on the counter) Just to be on the safe side
2. Cut vanilla beans in half. Slice each half down the middle to expose the vanilla bean seeds.
3. Place the pieces of the vanilla bean in the jar.
4. Repeat for all remaining jars that you will be filling with vodka.
5. If you are choosing to make in a large glass container that has a cover place 1- 2 vanilla been for every 4 oz of vodka.
6. Fill each jar with vodka.
7. Place the cap on each jar.
8. If you are labelling the jars add the label now. I think the jars would look great with a small homemade tag attached to the neck of the jar with a ribbon.
9. Place in a dark place for approximately 8 weeks for optimal flavour.
The front and back of the jars.
Here is what the vanilla looks like after just 5 days.
If you’ve used most of your vanilla, you can top up with vodka as long as the vanilla bean is still inside the jar. Please allow 8 weeks for optimal color and flavour.
The vanilla bean pod seeds can be used as well. Remove the bean from the bottle, use a knife to scrape the beans out and use in any recipe that calls for vanilla. Just be aware that if it is a light batter, cream etc. you will see the tiny black specs of seed.
Vanilla beans are not cheap in your local grocery store. I purchased mine on eBay, Vanilla Products USA
Specialty Bottle Company and My Own Labels both ship to Canada, However make sure you know that there will be extra fees by way of duties, broker fees, and taxes, upon delivery. Make sure you search for your coupon codes. “My Own Labels” sometimes offers coupons. Be sure to search their website or facebook page for one.
Hope you Enjoy making these as much as I did.