Friday, December 14, 2012

The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Pssst...can you keep a secret? I am so excited about the homemade gifts I am giving this year I just had to tell someone! And if you are still in need of a super quick gift for a teacher, neighbor, your hairdresser or for the person that invites you to the next holiday bash, then read on!

I love giving homemade gifts almost as much as I love receiving them. It’s a great feeling knowing that someone cared enough to take the time to handcraft something for you. In years past, I made the traditional homemade treats that so many of us like to make and give this time of the year. But lately I’ve been making things that wouldn’t cause the recipients to resent me later when they stepped onto a scale. Plus, it’s fun to make gifts that “keep on giving” well beyond the holidays. 

This year, a friend told me she was going to make vanilla extract- brilliant! I decided to join her on this homemade Christmas gift making adventure. You would not believe how easy it is to make vanilla extract! Just as much love went into making this year’s gift, but it took only about 10 minutes to finish a whole batch.

The key is to start with good quality whole vanilla beans, preferrably organic. We purchased bourbon extraction-grade 1 certified organic vanilla beans in bulk from Amadeus Vanilla Beans company. The beans were resonably priced and shipped to us in a matter of days. If you are in a hurry to make your extract, you can also purchase smaller portions of vanilla beans from most markets and Penzies Spices stores. You will need about 2 vanilla beans per 4 ounce bottle (or 4 beans in an 8-ounce bottle).

The only other ingredient needed is a good quality vodka. Right now, most grocery markets have vodka on sale in anticipation of New Year’s Eve soirĂ©es. Figure out how many bottles of extract you plan to make and how large your bottles are, then calculate how many ounces of vodka you need to buy. 

To make the vanilla extract: 
Sterilize the bottles in the dishwasher.
Split the vanilla beans lengthwise. Add vanilla beans to glass bottles and fill bottles up with vodka using a funnel. THAT’S IT! Now let it sit in a darkish area, turning the bottles upside down every few days until you are ready to give away. The extract is fully developed in about a month. The vanilla beans can be removed or kept in the bottle. The extract keeps indefinitely. 

Now everything that your friend (and mine) bakes will taste that much better with this pure vanilla extract homemade gift that will keep on giving well into the New Year!

Question: What is your favorite homemade gift you ever received?
until next time...


  1. Besides anything that included family photos, my favorite was a lavendar scented sea salt scrub!

    1. oooo- lavender sea salt scrub! I have given that before as well, a few years ago. It was also super easy to make. I used lavender buds in mine but next time I probably would skip that as the buds get stuck all over when draining the tub!

  2. This looks so good, anything with vanilla in is good to me!

  3. Where do you purchase those lovely bottles? I have to make this!!


    1. Thanks Denise- I bought the bottles at the Container Store. I used the 3.5 oz bottles but they also carry an 8-ounce size as well. Let me know how yours turns out!

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