Looking for next year’s Christmas Gifts already? Last year I started my vanilla extract in January, and I was glad I did. I had it all setup and ready to go before the Christmas Crazies hit me.
Homemade food gifts are a fun and creative way to show your family and friends that you care enough about them to spend the time to make them something they can use. And who doesn’t use vanilla?
There are a lot of posts on how to make your own vanilla. I’m going to give you a couple hints.
First things first: It takes more than 1 month to make a real vanilla extract. Any post that says one month, throw it out the window. We tested the vanilla throughout the year, and it wasn’t ready as a light vanilla until about the 5-6 month mark. Here’s a picture of the 11 month extraction on the left and the 6 month extraction on the right. You can see that the one on the left is super dark and the one on the right is a nice dark caramel color.
Second hint: Use Vodka! A lot of the recipes call for Bourbon. I’m sure the vanilla turns out nice, but one thing about vodka is that it has no taste. The second reason? It has no color. So, you can tell how deep your extraction is by checking it’s color. If you start out with a caramel color, you won’t be able to tell how dark the vanilla extract has become.
Third hint: Extract in a DARK bottle. Why? Sunlight damages the vanilla. So, keep it cool, keep it dry, and keep it out of the sunlight. I used the dark blue Skyy Vodka bottle to make my extract.
Fourth hint: Do not use Grade A vanilla beans. I tried them at first and they do not work as well. The Grade B beans are a little drier and actually produce a stronger extract. You can choose to use a different type of bean like Mexican Vanilla Beans or Tahitian Vanilla Beans for a different flavored extract, but the most common is the Madagascar Grade B Vanilla Beans.
Last hint: Use brown bottles when extract is complete. I found that a dozen bottles was perfect for 1.75 liter bottle of vanilla.
So, start it early and have fun next Christmas handing them out to your family and friends! Enjoy!