Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Homemade Vanilla

       Two of my proposed food gifts both take more time than effort.  And by time I mean time sitting and developing flavor time not labor time.
     This weekend I started a quart of homemade vanilla.  This was actually a little late to start on it as vanilla should sit for at least two months prior to using.  It only takes two ingredients:  vanilla beans and vodka.  I read lots off different homemade vanilla recipes on the web.  Some of the sites I read were:  http://hitchhikingtoheaven.com/2011/10/homemade-vanilla-extract-day-one.html , http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/making-homemade-vanilla-extract-aka-why-laura-bought-a-gallon-of-vodka , http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2010/09/17/homemade-gift-series-1-vanilla-extract/, and http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_vanilla_extract/ .  There are a lot of others too!  Am I the last person to try this?  This is why I love the web - you have an idea or a need and almost always there is something online to help.
       The problem is that each site has a slightly different recipe. I ended up taking the middle road as far as ratio of beans to vodka.  I used two kinds of beans:  Tahitian and Planifolia.  I ordered these online last week and a total of a half a pound was under $30.00.  A half a pound is a lot of beans!!
          The steps are easy.  Slice almost to the top of each vanilla bean.
        Put them in a clean canning jar, fill with vodka and cover with a lid.
       Pint jars were already on hand so I used those and smooshed (technical term) the beans down to fit.
I put four of each type of bean in each jar for a total of eight per pint. After a few minutes the vodka was already starting to darken.
  Just store in a dark cool space for two months, give an occasional shake and voila! vanilla.  It took maybe 5 minutes to do this.  Bonus - my kitchen smelled like vanilla for the rest of the weekend.  Right before Christmas I'll pour it into four ounce bottles and give as gifts to my co-workers.
    I also started homemade limoncello last week but will wait to talk more about that til after the second step next weekend.

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