Real vanilla extract, the good stuff is pricey. The cheap stuff is often imitation and really not good for you. Plus there’s the fact that some vanilla extracts have sugar or corn syrup added to them. Not really want you want to use when making lovely food from scratch.
Thankfully it’s incredibly easy to make your own vanilla extract. I mean really easy!
Now what does vanilla extract have to do with homemade holidays, you ask? A lot! Vanilla just screams holiday baking. Therefore homemade vanilla is a great gift to give as a gift. I’m pretty certain that most home cooks and bakers would love a nice bottle of good vanilla extract.
Homemade vanilla is easy but it does take time. 8 weeks in fact. So it’s a little late to give fully made vanilla extract as a gift. However, you could give vanilla extract that has been started as a gift with a note on when it will be finished. You could also give a homemade vanilla extract kit so that the gift recipient can make it themselves.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
8 oz vodka (I hear rum or brandy works too)
5 vanilla beans
Slice each bean length wise and place into a bottle or jar (one that will be large enough to hold a bit more than 8 oz). Next pour in the vodka. Make sure your vanilla beans are completely covered by the vodka. If you are using a short jar, you can cut the beans in half so that they will be covered completely. Place lid on jar and give it a good shake. Then wait and shake about once a week.
After 8 weeks, you have wonderful vanilla extract. At this point you can strain the beans out of the extract or you can leave them in there. The choice is yours.
Note: Apparently 5 beans per 8 oz alcohol is what the FDA says to use… although I know most recipes call for 4 beans per 8 oz…probably just because that math is easier 2:1)