Monday, November 29, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract


We have had some crazy weather here in Fairbanks this last week. A huge storm that came in last Monday gave most of us that worked at the University the whole week off. Today was the first time I had been into town in over a week. I must say that I was surprised to see that Christmas is in full swing at our local Fred Meyer store, music and all. Although I have never been one to shop on Black Friday, this year I couldn't help but notice it seems that everyone is encouraging us to spend more money this year. Seriously, even The Nature Conservancy is participating in "Green Monday". While I support the idea of being "Green", what does that really mean? So, I tried to think of some Green Holiday gifts to share with you here. The first thing that came to mind is something I use quite often in my kitchen. I call it the never ending bottle of vanilla. The one in the picture above is from my kitchen cupboard. Every time I finish off a vanilla bean I stick it in the jar, so this one is quite packed. For starting out or gift giving, two vanilla beans per 8 ounces will do the trick. If you don't use as many vanilla beans as I do during the year you can just split the bean in half and use the seeds and all, or you could scrape the seeds out and put them in a pretty jar with some sugar and make that a gift as well. This is a super easy holiday gift to make and it eliminates all the little jars of vanilla extract that you would normally use. Even the most adverse to cooking person in your life uses vanilla every once in a while and if not, well it is basically vanilla infused vodka. They can make their favorite vanilla flavored adult beverage.

To make Homemade Vanilla Extract you will need the following for each bottle. I recommend buying in bulk and making several at a time. One of my favorite places to shop for vanilla beans is Beanilla. If you buy in bulk you can get them for about 80 cents a piece, a real steal in Fairbanks where I once saw one Vanilla Bean for $17.95.

1 8 ounce bottle with secure sealing lid
2 Vanilla Beans
approximately 7 ounces of vodka (don't bother using the good stuff, it doesn't matter)

Cut the Vanilla Beans in half (I use kitchen scissors), either scrape out the seeds to use for another purpose or place the whole bean in the bottle. Fill bottle to top with vodka. Seal the bottle. Put in a cool, dark place for about 3-4 weeks. Use as you would vanilla extract. Keep a bottle of vodka handy. Each time you use some of the vanilla, top the bottle off with a little more vodka. If you notice the vanilla getting a little light in color after a year or so replenish the beans.

5 comments:

  1. What a smart gift for the holidays. And all that snow will certainly get you ready for the season too.

    Paul

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  2. I'd forgotten to cut or split my vanilla bean and have been wondering why it was just sitting there and not doing anything for so long...Duh. I love your photo of your homemade vanilla extract!

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  3. thanks so much for this recipe! i would love to use the real extract but here in south africa it is too expensive.

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  4. Where did you purchase those amazing bottles?

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  5. I get all my swing top bottles and jars from Country Kitchen in Fairbanks. They only order once a year, so sometimes the selection is better than others.

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