I love reading DIY blogs where people make super creative and artistic things at home which they feature in their houses gorgeously decorated houses. I, on the other hand, only wish I had that DIY gene. In addition to cooking, Jenny from Honey & Birch has that enviable knack for DIY/crafting too. (I may be a tad jealous!) I met Jenny at a Windy City Blogger happy hour and have been thinking about doing a guest post exchange ever since. Head over to her blog to see my post on 15 tips for packing a healthy lunch. Today, she is sharing this really cool DIY homemade vanilla extract with you. I can’t wait to try it too! I am very excited to be sharing on Debbie’s blog today! While I most often post recipes on my blog, the occasional DIY does make an appearance. Of these DIYs, my favorite and the easiest is DIY vanilla extract. DIY vanilla extract is very easy to make and is great for your kitchen or to give away as gifts. You only need a few supplies and time – the extract needs to soak for about 8 weeks before it’s ready to use.
To get started, you only need four things – glass bottles with stoppers, vanilla beans, a sharp knife and vodka. I also used a funnel and a measuring cup to make pouring the liquid easier, but these two are optional items. Even with them, there’s a good chance you’ll still spill if you’re not careful. You can find glass bottles at HomeGoods or Ikea that are reasonably priced. When shopping at either of these stores for bottles, the most important to look for are bottles that seal very well and that hold at least 4 ounces of liquid. For this tutorial, I used 4 ounce Boston Round bottles I found on Amazon. Next, you will need vanilla beans. The first time I made vanilla extract, I purchased 12 Madagascar Vanilla beans from Spice House in Chicago. They have 5 locations throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, and a really awesome online shop. I could (and should) just drive over to one of their locations to pick up my spices, but I love getting packages delivered. This time around, I bought them on Amazon. Do some research before you buy them – if you hunt you can usually get a good deal. For the size bottles that I bought, I used 1 vanilla bean per bottle. Adjust accordingly – remember, my bottles hold approximately 1/2 cup of liquid per bottle. And the final, but most important ingredient is the alcohol. I went with vodka but you can go exotic if you want and do bourbon or whiskey. Alcohol itself is the key ingredient in this mix. Because I wanted a vanilla extract that was very… vanilla, I went with the cleanest vodka I could find. By clean, I mean with the least amount of vodka taste. Surprisingly, with all my research, it wasn’t Grey Goose, Belvedere or another top shelf vodka. It was Svedka. You can use whatever vodka you’d like.
1. To start, slice all of your vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Do this slowly so that you don’t cut yourself. Then cut all your halved vanilla beans into equal sized pieces. The pieces should be small enough to fit inside the bottles you chose. 2. Place the pieces of 1 vanilla bean into each bottle. Remember that my bottles hold 4 ounces of liquid – if your bottle holds 8 ounces (1 cup) then use 2 vanilla beans per bottle. 3. Fill each bottle with enough vodka so that the tops of each vanilla bean piece is covered. Using the optional funnel and a measuring cup make this less messy. 4. Close each bottle tightly and give it a good shake. You should store the bottles in a cool, dark place for at least 8 weeks before using. Each week shake the bottles once or twice. So easy, right? Every week when you shake the bottles, the vanilla extract will become more and more potent. Because of the alcohol, the shelf life of each bottle is virtually infinite, given that the bottles are closed tightly each time. After they have sat for at least 8 weeks, all you need to do is give the bottle a good shake before you use it. If you are giving bottles away as gifts, consider attaching a handmade label, including the bottled date and instructions for use. Above is my newly bottled vanilla extract and a bottle from the first batch I made. It has a gorgeous tawny color and a pungent vanilla scent after sitting for several months. I use it for all of my baked goods now and its better than the store bought versions. I hope you enjoy this kitchen DIY!