Monday, January 07, 2013

Christmas Craft - Homemade Vanilla Extract

I love vanilla extract and really dis-like paying for the "real stuff"!
Even though it takes about two months to "age", I decided to make homemade vanilla extract even though the receivers of it would have to wait another month before using.
It is so easy, the hard part is deciding on the bottles to buy and the best on-line deal for vanilla beans. I did have to educate myself on the different beans and vodkas. Most recipes called for using the least expensive vodka but then I read about why using a better quality vodka was better. So I took the middle road. The price of the vodka will determine how much money you are saving by making it yourself.
I hope all the recipients of the extract like it. We are looking forward to using our bottle.
There are hundreds of free directions on the internet on how to make the extract; here is Jamie Deen in a video that is easy to follow.Who doesn't like watching Jamie Deen?
What I did different from Jamie's method: I flattened the vanilla bean with the back of a knife so it was easier to split down the middle, I also cut the bean into fourths so that the bean will stay below the liquid level as you use it, you do not want the vanilla bean up above the liquid extract (vodka) level. I did warm the vodka gently on the stove but most recipes do not call for this step. Your choice! I bought the vanilla beans on line in bulk so the cost was greatly reduced. I used different jars but the jelly Ball jars work great if you don't want to buy specialty bottles.
After a few months, you can give the gift as is (with the vanilla beans in the jar) or strain it through a paper coffee filter and re-bottle. If you leave the beans in the gift, include a note that they may refill with vodka and let sit for several months to make more extract themselves!
The beautiful cobalt blue vodka bottle was re-purposed as an incense burner (Ford's crafty gift this year).

Why make Extract: From Vanilla Review:
Quality vanilla is a tasty and essential cooking ingredient. It’s also very expensive. By making our own extraction we get the highest possible quality product made from the absolute best vanilla beans. Considering that the FDA regulates vanilla extract by bean weight and not bean quality, you never know what you might be getting with manufactured products. Your vanilla will be free of the artificial colors and vile corn sweeteners found in even high-quality vanilla extracts. Hand crafted vanilla extract is a great gift that will last a lifetime — like a fine wine, vanilla extract matures with age.
The photo above shows the extract after about three weeks (mid-December). Ready for giving with a note that says ready for use in another month!

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