Saturday, July 3, 2010

Handmade Holidays - Vanilla Extract

Tahitian Vanilla Beans

I wanted to label this "things to do with a Ball jar" but I didn't use just Ball. I've been doing a lot of things with canning jars lately besides just canning. Don't worry, I'll share later.

This is the first of the Handmade Holiday gifts I've created for end of the year celebrations. It's so simple but such a great gift for people that like to cook. Even if you have zero cooking ability, this is a easy gift to make for those in your life that do. Pure vanilla extract is expensive. I bought a 2 ounce bottle for a mere $6.99. It's not even organic. I use a lot of vanilla. I add it to just about every baked good I create. I used it in homemade ice cream and that one time I made yogurt. I've even read recipes for pork and other savory dishes that call for it, though those I haven't tried.

Making your own vanilla extract is not expensive...overall. I made just over seventeen cups of it.

One cup of my vanilla vs. 2 oz. store bought.

I purchased my vanilla through Beanilla after reading a wonderful article on Vanilla Garlic which has now turned me into a Vanilla Elitist. I got the half pound of Tahitian beans and a 5 pack of Mexican beans (but those are for me so I don't count that cost.) I used Smirnoff vodka and Castillo rum.

Beanilla beans $35
Smirnoff 1.75l  $18 (on sale)
Castillo 1.75l $16 (on sale)
2 Cases of Ball 1/2 pint jars $7.99*

Project total : $85

*I also found some jars at the thrift store for about .40 each, got two 17 ounce jars from Ikea for $2.99 each, these are for me. You could recycle jam or pasta sauce jars. Anything glass, really, that seals liquid and air tight.

$85 sounds like a lot, and it is initially, but lets do the math to see the ounce break down. I made 136 ounces of vanilla extract. $85/136 ounces= $0.625 per ounce. Store bought was $3.50 an ounce. If I kept this all for myself I'd have a life time supply of extract. I actually have a few beans left over for other projects like vanilla sugar, salt or paste. You can also top off the extract bottle when you get about half way down, further reducing the overall cost. I have enough to gift out to at least a dozen people and keep a huge supply for myself.

Easy steps to making your own Vanilla Extract.

Pour alcohol (rum, bourbon or vodka) into glass jar leaving a 1/4" headroom. Slice a bean the long way careful not to slice it fully in half. Open it up and add to the alcohol. Each 1/2 pint jar fits 1 cup and three beans perfectly. You'll want at least three beans to every 1 cup. Seal it up and put it in a cool, dark place for at least 2 months.

I've heard some people use theirs within a few weeks but I don't want to take chances. Pull them out and shake them every now and again. I'm aging mine 6 months in the top cabinet in the kitchen where I won't see it and will forget about it until my iPod reminds me. r

I also created simple little 2" circle labels through publisher and printed them on full sheet sticker paper. I think it makes them more professional and tells me what I used in each.

I'm very pleased with the results. I'm also going to make a little pamphlet to hang from a rubber band on the side to tell people how to refill the bottle and suggestions for using the beans after it's all gone. I might pair these with a small jar of vanilla sugar and maybe a recipe book of some of my favorites which I'll print out myself.

The first of the gifts are done and I even have some waiting for me! Happy Homemade Holidays everyone.

No comments: