Last week at the end of my post on Old Fashioned Beef Stew I left you with this picture and a sort of a cliff hanger
Allow me to explain. Last month we took our kids and our twin grandbabies to the local orchard for our monthly Family Funday Sunday. We had a great time exploring the pumpkin patch, feeding goats and tasting all of the wonderful apple and pumpkin delights. Unfortunately due to the drought there were no apples to pick but there was still plenty to see and do. It was a wonderful day just because we were together as a family.
As we were walking through the gift shop my daughter-in-law spied a “Make Your Own Vanilla Extract” kit. It came with a bottle, 3 vanilla beans for $17.99 and you still had to provide the Vodka! I know good vanilla extract can be expensive but really! My thrifty do-it-herselfer kicked in and told my dear daughter-in-law that I could surely make it cheaper!
So began my quest. Seems homemade vanilla is quite popular. There are tutorials all over the web, but what I needed was the ingredients and the bottles. After a lot of searching I settled on a set of Wheaton French Square 8 oz bottles from Amazon. A case of 24 proved to be the most thrifty way to go and since I’d be making some for my daughter-in-law, for myself and for Christmas giving I figure I’ll be able to use them up. If not all for vanilla for other delightful things too. Bottles = $1.70
An 8 oz package of Marky’s Bourbon Vanilla Beans from Amazon seemed to be the best deal on the net . They take a little longer to get from the vendor but they were worth the wait! They smell fantastic even before you open the package! These have gone up a bit in price since I bought them. There were 70 beans in my package and at $22.83 they came out to .33/bean or .99/bottle of extract.
So far so good. Now, I’m not sure what the price of Vodka is, but the recipes all say to use a cheap Vodka. I just happened to have some SKOL in the cabinet. I’m sure I probably got it on sale (I never pay retail). But I’m going to go with a price I found on the internet for $15. Again, I’m sure I didn’t pay that for it but we’ll go with that for the sake of pricing this out. One 750 ml bottle will make three 8 oz bottles, so with the Vodka we’re in for $5.
Grand total for 1 8-oz bottle of my vanilla extract: $7.69. Considering I pay about $14 for Watkins Vanilla and a lot of gourmet vanillas will go for upwards of $20 or more for 8 oz. so I’d say I did pretty well, and I had a lot of fun doing it. I could see going in on this with a couple of friends too. A little Vodka for the vanilla and a lot more for the Chocolate-tinis! A fun way to spend some time with friends!
So, here’s how it all goes together:
1. Slice 3 Vanilla Bean Pods down the center. I cut one end off of mine to make them fit better too.
2. Place vanilla bean pods into the glass jar and add Vodka to cover and cap!
The bottles must be stored in a cool, dark place for 2 months. That’s right MONTHS, but good things come to those who wait, right? I placed mine in a cupboard. Most of the sites I’ve visited say to shake them from time to time. I can’t wait to watch them turn dark. 🙂
Being a waste not want not kind of gal, I decided to take those ends from the vanilla beans and make some vanilla infused sugar. It’s SUPER easy too. Just put some sugar and the vanilla beans into an air-tight container and shake. This will be so yummy in my holiday baking or in a nice cup of hot tea!
So, there you have it. I can’t wait to get some more Vodka and make a few more bottles. The house smells wonderful. I wonder what else I might make with my vanilla. SO many possibilities. I even saw a recipe for Lavender/Vanilla extract. Hmmm…the possibilities are endless!