Homemade Vanilla Extract is simple to make and quite stunning once bottled, so add it to your arsenal of homemade gifts this holiday season, especially for the baker in your life.
I had a moment lately, you know, a moment- the internally grumbly, stressy, overall negative sort of moment. But thankfully, before I could release any of that bad energy on another human, I had this little epiphany: my reaction is a choice. WHY AM I STRESSING?!
I was so focused on the big picture, I was failing to see how important the day before me was. I should have been excited. Sure, it had been a really busy week, but that’s because I had been working toward something meaningful.
Thankfully, by some grace, I had the awareness to step back and see that. I had a chance to make a choice: furrow my brow and stress until things were “perfect,” OR I could give myself some credit and then try to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I chose the latter.
When I really looked at the calendar last week, a similar feeling of stress started to emerge. My calendar denial could no longer protect me. Christmas was coming at an accelerated speed, so I could either freak out, or do my best and try to enjoy my last minute projects. (This seems to be a reoccurring pattern, so maybe I need to work on stress vs joy for my New Year’s resolution?!?)
So I’m choosing to enjoy my final Christmas preparations, and homemade gifts are one of my defense mechanisms against the holiday hangups. Instead of battling feuding families in malls, hit the wine and spirits shop (extra bonus: might as well buy yourself some wine while you’re there) and your favorite spice store.
Two stops, and you’ll have the makings of homemade vanilla extract. Cue up your favorite holiday albums (Mariah Carey and She & Him, for me please), spike the egg nog, and then, it’s as simple as pouring liquid over vanilla beans.
That’s really all there is to it. Homemade Vanilla Extract is super simple. It’s just alcohol and vanilla beans, but once bottled, it’s a super classy gift that the baker in your life will appreciate.
For Even More Gifting:
Divide the homemade vanilla extract between smaller bottles, and you have a thoughtful host(ess) gift this season.
For the Fullest Flavor:
Homemade vanilla extract takes about 30 days to infuse, so include a note with your gift, telling your recipient when they can begin to use it.
Want to personalize the gift even more?
Include a recipe card for one of your favorite vanilla desserts.
Happy holidays, friends! I hope they are as stressless as can be.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Adapted from the Kitchn
3 to 5 vanilla beans
8 ounces alcohol such as vodka, bourbon, brandy, or rum
What You’ll Need:
Cutting board and knife
Clean jar or bottle
New bottle(s) for packaging (optional)
Small funnel (optional)
Coffee filter (optional)
Split each vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Then make additional cuts if need be to fit your bottle.
The standard ratio is 3 to 5 vanilla beans per 8 oz of alcohol. Place the vanilla beans in a jar(s) and cover with alcohol accordingly. Make sure the vanilla beans are completely submerged. Cover the jar or bottle and give it a good shake.
Store the jar or bottle of vanilla beans in a cool, dark place for at least one month, shaking it from time to time. Taste the extract and let it infuse longer if you want a stronger flavor.
After 30 days, you can remove the vanilla pods and decant the extract into a pretty bottle. For a clear extract, strain the extract through a coffee filter to remove the small flecks of vanilla. You can also leave the beans in the alcohol and top off the bottle as you use the extract. Eventually all the flavor will be extracted from the original vanilla beans, so you can periodically add fresh beans as well as leftover pods that you’ve scraped for other recipes.