Vanilla Extract makes GREAT gifts and is so easy - start now and it will be ready in time for Christmas.
Every year I look forward to figuring out what I am going to make for Christmas presents. I make gifts for my friends and family - and they are always handmade. Each year it is something different - it just depends on what I am focusing on at the time!
I usually make things throughout the year and then figure out who they go to. My daughter says I am the only person she knows with a Christmas Present spread sheet. Haha. One year I knitted socks for everyone. Another year I painted and decorated clipboards and they each had a matching tablet to go with it. Card making is always a go-to for me, too.
Another year I made Vanilla Extract. The vanilla was a HUGE hit with everyone. They just loved it. Since I recently moved and now have a different set of friends…. AND my children are grown and out of the house and do their own cooking…..I decided to repeat the Vanilla Extract for Christmas this year. Homemade Vanilla Extract is so much better than store bought. And so much cheaper too. Plus, it is so so so easy to make - Yay for easy!
Right NOW is the perfect time to get started on making your own Vanilla.
It takes about 2-3 months for the beans and alcohol to become vanilla extract. If you are reading this and you only have a few weeks (or days) don’t despair - I have a few tricks at the end of this post so you can still make it and give as a gift.
I have included below -
A printable Recipe PDF
‘How to make the Vanilla Extract’ video - only 2 minutes long
Files for the labels and the tags (in both PDF and SVG versions)
All vanilla beans are not created equal. There are different origins and types of beans. The three main types are Madagascar, Tahitian, and Mexican vanilla beans, but vanilla beans are also grown in other parts of the world. I personally like the flavor of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. I have never used Mexican Vanilla Beans. There are also different grades. I use Grade B since I am making vanilla extract. For cooking I buy Grade A — those beans are usually longer and plumper.
[All supplies are linked in the text below and in the thumbnails at the end of this post. Compensated affiliate links may be used at no cost to you.]
Bourbon or vodka. I used grain-free vodka and I buy the cheap stuff. 80 proof. The difference is taste - I have always used Vodka. Maybe it’s cheaper :)
4 oz. amber bottles. Buy THESE or THESE from Amazon. The reason you want amber is because it keeps the light out - BUT if your vanilla is kept in a dark area (like a kitchen cabinet) than a clear bottle works too. The 8 oz. bottles are HERE.
Labels - you can make your own or print out the ones I made for you - click HERE or the button below.
You need 5-6 vanilla beans per 8 oz. of alcohol. I made 12- 4 oz. bottles. So, I only needed 36 beans and 48 oz. of alcohol. The math: 8 oz. vodka = 5/6 beans.
Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise down the center. No need to scoop out the flesh.
Place the split beans in the large mason jar with the vodka. 6 beans per 8 oz. Seal tightly. NOTE - the beans must be completely submerged in the liquid. If they are too long, cut them in half (or even thirds).
Place in a space that is room temperature and dark (or cover it with something to create an illusion of dark) until bottling time (2-3 months).
Bottling time - YAY!
Remove the pods.
Strain the pulp from the liquid using cheesecloth (you need about 4 layers) or other fabric. I use a nut bag. Or a fine mesh cheesecloth. Remove as much of the pulp as possible. It’s ok if some of the flecks remain.
Pour the liquid into the bottles. I use a funnel so I don’t lose a drop.
And that is all there is to it. Apply a cute label and find a cute package. One year I used Pringles cans. I decorated them on the outside, added paper shred with the bottles inside. This year I am going to attempt to make a round ‘box’ on my Cricut. I will let you know if it becomes a reality!
Tie a cute piece of string or ribbon around the top and attach your tag.
The video for making the Vanilla Extract is below (only 2 minutes long!) -
EVERYTHING you need is right here! Have fun. And enjoy
What if you don’t have 2-3 months?!
If you don’t have time to let the vanilla brew than you can do this -
Buy all the ingredients.
Split the beans and put inside the bottle. Cut in half if they are too long (or even in thirds).
Add your alcohol making sure the beans are completely submerged.
Include a card with the directions for what to do in 2-3 months time. Print out a tag with the ‘finished by’ date so they know when to strain and begin using it. I have a tag for you to print and cut out or you can use your Cricut. Click on the link above.
What I do for me -
I make a half gallon of vanilla for myself. I keep it in a mason jar in a dark cabinet. I have my little 4 oz. bottle in the kitchen where I can reach it often. When it gets empty I refill it from my big jar. The beauty of vanilla is that it does not expire - all that alcohol keeps it fresh.
And there you have it - an awesome Christmas (or anytime gift) that is so easy to make. Everyone will be so in awe of your mad ‘cooking’ skills. Your girlfriends will love you and these make great teacher and bridal gifts, too.
Enjoy the process.