This year for Christmas I decided I wanted to make something a little more special, homemade to be exact. My favourite part of Christmas isn't the receiving of the gifts, I do enjoy it as everyone does, even those who deny it, but my favourite part is the gift giving. With gift giving there is also the card delivering and offering to those you love some special words of kindness that will make your loved ones feel special, appreciated, grateful, etc...
For the past couple of years with certain people I always offer some sort of homemade baked good, with a special note in a card. This year with the baked goods I also wanted to offer something a little more... I'm not sure. Nonetheless, I decided on homemade vanilla extract. I remember last year as I was beginning to get involved in the blogging world this is when I first heard of homemade vanilla extract. This was around the same time I learnt about homemade Bailey's (my favourite alcohol), my aunt had brought some that she had made, and wow, it was great, and seriously tasted pretty freakin' close to the real deal.
I knew that this time around I was going to get my hands dirty and make my vanilla. So, a couple of weeks ago, I decided I was definitely going to do this. I bought myself some bourbon vanilla beans, which turned out beautifully and shipped really quickly. I then ordered twenty-two four ounce bottles that I decided I was going to make the vanilla in. I then bought 45% alcohol Vodka and 40% Rum.
After having the beans and the bottles for a week, I decided enough is enough of slacking, because Christmas is around the corner. I set off to my living room with my cat, flicked on the tv, and we started to work, yes even Izzy, (I mean hey, giving me company is helping me right? ;) ) After about ten beans my pointer finger was on fiiiire. You would think the knife I was using was a horrible knife, but no no, I'm just a huge weakling or something. I put 3 vanilla beans in each bottle, filled them with the vodka or rum and sealed them shut. I should of taken a picture at the beginning, but it was so dark out, and then every day after that I was working late so I never got a chance.
As of this point they look beautiful. My mom tried a little bit, she said you could certainly taste the vanilla but it's definitely still very-much alcohol, hence why you infuse it for six-eight weeks :). I can't wait for these to be ready so that I can try my hand at baking with my homemade vanilla!
This has definitely been a fun process so far. It's really need to see the colour change and see the result of your work.
Cut the vanilla beans in half and then cut them down the middle, to split them and open them up. Place two-three of the cut beans right into the bottle.
Add unflavored vodka and seal the bottle and let it steep for 6 to 8 weeks, until it is ready to use.
Once you have this extract made you pretty much have it forever. When you use it, just continue filling it up with more vodka. More or less through times I would advise on adding new beans every once in a while so that the flavours are still fresh, but there you go, you see how simple it is?