Vanilla extract is one ingredient that we tend to use over and over in our kitchen. Flavoring whipped cream, cookies and fudge, even adding a smidge to some hot chocolate for that little something extra.
Last year I was given a gift of handmade vanilla extract and I am going to share that recipe with you. It's a snap to make and requires only a couple of ingredients. Vodka, vanilla beans, pretty bottles and patience are all you need and if you start now, you'll have some wonderful handmade gifts to give this next Christmas.
Vanilla Bean Extract
375 ml bottle of Vodka (or Rum for something different)
2 Vanilla Beans (preferably from the Health food shop for a better quality bean)
Pour 375 ml of Vodka into a decorative bottle that seals tightly. Slice the vanilla beans open lengthwise (no need to cut them in half) to expose the seeds and pulp. Slip the beans into the bottle and seal tightly. I also added about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar but it's not necessary.
All you have to do now is place the bottle in a cool dark place for 4 - 6 months and give it a shake every month or so. Once the vanilla bean extract is ready, just use it straight from the bottle leaving the beans inside.
As the extract is used up, you can top up the bottle with Vodka and give it a shake. This way your extract won't run out! The extract should last for many years since it is alcohol based but I recommend adding another vanilla bean every year or so to keep the flavour strong. The bottle I was given said it would last for 7 years.
For gift giving, add a nice label or hang tag with instructions and tie up with a ribbon.