I secretly listen to Christmas music months before Christmas is even here. I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm for holiday music, but now is the perfect time to start preparing for the holiday season – especially if you plan to give homemade gifts! This year I decided to make homemade vanilla extract for my neighbors, my son’s teachers, and my coworkers. I started brewing my vanilla extract back in September so it would be ready in time for Christmas, but it isn’t too late for you to start on yours now for this season. You can always place a Do Not Use Until label on the bottles which will inform your recipients when the vanilla is ready.
- Step 1: Start by cutting each of your vanilla beans in half lengthwise, being careful not to slice all the way through the bean pod. Once sliced, you will notice that the inside of the bean looks like a black gritty paste. Make sure anything that falls out of the beans goes into your glass bottles because that’s where real flavor will come from.
- Step 2: Gently place your sliced vanilla beans into a clean glass bottle. If you are using a 4 oz bottle, you will have to fold the bean in half to make it fit inside the bottle.
- Step 3. Using a funnel, carefully fill each bottle to the top with vodka. After you add the vodka, place the lid on the bottle and give it a shake. Store it in a cool dry place (like a cupboard) before using it.
- Note: After about 3-4 months it will be ready use, or you can let it sit for up to 6 months for even more flavor.
- Step 4. Place custom labels on each of your bottles. I made two different labels, one for the front and one for the back, that lists the ingredients along with a custom holiday message. I was even able to add a special design request for swirls added to my label which made for a truly one-of-a-kind gift (see Stacy's design tips in the captions under the top two images for more details).
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