I love vanilla extract. Ok, I love my family… but I REALLY like vanilla extract. I use it in so many things and usually much more than the recipe calls for. This Christmas we really wanted to try to make some of our gifts and choose to be thoughtful and not just get sucked into the materialistic side of things… although those gifts can be fun, too. Christmas always challenges me that way and honestly, sometimes I dread it. Don’t get me wrong, I like buying stuff for other people… and I like getting gifts as well but, sometimes I just wish there would be less of that and more reflection, more peace, more Reason in the season. When we were kids my parents (for a short time) said that Jesus only got 3 gifts and so would we. For some reason I look back on that as something that I wish we would have continued. I think it made the gifts have a purpose, a connection with why we give them at all. I will probably do something similar with my son as he grows up. Why not? I actually mention it from time to time in hope that we would simplify our family Christmas. Do any of you feel the same? What do you do to simplify Christmas and make it meaningful?
Anywho… back to vanilla. Mmmm….
So, who knew making your own extract (of anything!) was so easy. It’s so easy a child could do it! Though child + vodka = illegal so, maybe that’s a bad idea.
We bought our beans on Ebay at a steal. Seriously, vanilla beans are so expensive! What you may not know (I didn’t) is that nearly all vanilla beans are grown organically because they don’t really have any predators. And if no bugs want to eat them, you don’t need to spray. Great! That means I avoided the label of “organic” (which I don’t often feel ok doing) and went for a company that explained the truth to me and was reasonably priced. We followed their recipe and cut up the beans into pieces and covered them with vodka. I do regret not using organic vodka and plan to remedy that next time. I will probably have to have my local ABC store special order me some, since I can not order it online in Virginia. Sorry for the bad picture but, here’s what they looked like:
I would have to look-up the recipe again to remember how much we used per half-gal jar but, it seemed like a lot. I’ll try to find that info for you. We made a gallon and a half of the stuff and let it sit on a shelf in the pantry, shaking it once per day, for 6 weeks. It really worked! That’s it! Beans cut, in a jar, leave for 6-8 weeks, >poof!<, vanilla! I love easy stuff. With all of the extra work and prep it takes sometimes to be homemade and healthy, it’s so nice when something is super easy and way cheaper than store-bought. I am also currently making spearmint extract and hope to plant some peppermint this year so I can make some with that as well.
Where is that place? Looking… looking… looking…
Click HERE for the vanilla bean recipe and Ebay store where we got ours.
What will you make today? I’d love to hear if you have other great things that are easy, healthy and cheaper than store-bought!
Also, I got my labels from HERE.