I have a really simple homemade gift to share with you today.
Do you remember my infusions from last year? I made a rosemary olive oil and lavender & lemon sea salt (in pretty glass bottles with custom labels). They were really popular here on the blog and with family and friends, so I decided to try something new this year and have two new easy infusions to share with you this week.
First up? Homemade vanilla extract. (And next, Kahlua!) I was so surprised to learn how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract and that it only takes about three weeks from start to finish.
Infusions started in the next couple of weeks should be ready for the holidays, but you could really gift them at any time (they can sit on the giftee’s shelf and marinate for weeks or months, becoming even more delicious).
Diy vanilla extract includes two ingredients: alcohol and whole vanilla beans. The type of alcohol you choose is up to you, but the most frequently used kinds include rum, vodka, whiskey or bourbon.
I actually made a few of each just for taste testing purposes. More on that in a couple of weeks when these puppies are done.
As far as packaging goes, there are a lot of small jars and containers out there to choose from. I’m kind of partial to a really basic bottle and a handmade label (which you can download towards the end of this post if you’d like to join in the fun, too).
After MUCH searching (which started last Christmas) I’ve decided that my go-to for bottles from here on out will be U-Line. They sell thick glass bottles with screw on lids (as opposed to corks), are competitive in price, ship next day as their standard and come in the perfect sizes. But you do have to order by their minimum quantities which was 24 for my vanilla bottles in a 4oz size and 12 for the Kahlua bottles in a 16oz size.
I found Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans through a company on Amazon this year and was really thrilled with the quality and taste.
Directions: my little helper placed one whole vanilla bean (cut in half) in each 4oz bottle. Update: one reader has suggested splitting the beans lengthwise first, I’ll be sure to try that next time!
And then using a small funnel, I poured the alcohol into each bottle up to the brim.
Then they can be set aside (back into the box or into a dark pantry) for about three weeks for infusing. Though I’m sure the longer they sit the richer the flavor.
For the record, I’m not sure yet which alcohol infusion is tastiest, but I’ll let you know when I try them out in a week or so.
You can download the labels I made here (for rum infused vanilla bean extract) for use on your own bottles, they should work well for a bottle in the 3-8oz range. It’s easiest to print them on sticker paper (shipping label sticker paper seems to be the most cost-effective) and to cut out the rectangles with a paper trimmer or scissors.
But before I settled on those labels I came up with a bunch of different ideas, and you can download those here if you want to experiment.
I may have gotten a little carried away…
I can’t wait to test these out in a few recipes this season!