It’s the first day of December, people! I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, but you only have less than 25 days left for Christmas shopping, and even less than that to prepare your Christmas baskets full of homemade goodies! Do you have your Christmas baskets planned out? This year, part of my basket will include the gift of homemade vanilla extract. Store-bought pure vanilla extract is expensive, but you can cut your costs by making it at home with just two ingredients: vanilla bean pods and alcohol (preferably vodka or bourbon).
I started brewing my vanilla extract back in September so that it would be ready for Christmas, but it isn’t too late to start on yours now even for this gifting season. Placing a “Do Not Use Until” date on the bottles will inform your recipients when the vanilla is ready. Even if your friends can’t use it right away, they’ll appreciate that you prepared it for them for later use. And, it never expires.
If you plan to give the vanilla extract away as gifts, I suggest using 4-ounce dark glass bottles, such as these Amber Boston Round Glass bottles I bought for only $.68 each! I then created labels on my computer and printed them out on sticker paper. If you’re not able to design your own personalized labels, click the label icon below for a free printable I created just for you!
A few notes about homemade vanilla extract:
*This is my favorite place to buy vanilla beans.
*Continue to add used vanilla bean pods from other recipes into the brewing extract instead of tossing them out. Top off extract with more vodka as you use it up, along with more vanilla beans. Or, just keep a 2nd bottle brewing for when the first is used up.
*If using the vodka bottle to brew your vanilla extract, take out 2 shots worth before adding the bean pods so the vodka doesn’t overflow.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- 750 mL bottle vodka
- 9 vanilla bean pods
If brewing for home use:
Pour out 2 shots worth of vodka and store for another use. Slice each vanilla pod in half vertically, leaving one side attached at the end. Drop vanilla pods in the vodka bottle and replace lid. Let steep in a cool area in your pantry for 12 weeks before first use. Shake every couple of weeks.
If brewing for 4-ounce bottled gifts:
Slice each vanilla pod in half vertically and horizontally. Place 1 1/2 pods (6 sliced segments) in each 4-ounce bottle. Fill each bottle with vodka, replace lid tightly and let steep for 12 weeks. If giving away before the 12 weeks is up, include a tag with the bottle that states the "Ready for Use By" date.