Homemade Vanilla

Saturday, October 01, 2022

I'm about to head out on my annual girl's retreat in October.  We decided to do a 'favorite things' exchange (I do this in the summer with a group of crafting friends I've been retreating with for over a decade and we love it).  My favorite thing is probably something sweet.  I was planning on getting a favorite cupcake or cookie, but I brought cookies last year from an Austin bakery I love, so I decided to bring something sweet related-an ingredient.  

These would also make awesome gifts for Christmas.  It's not super 'cheap' to make, but it is fun.  I found a pack of 9 bottles on Amazon that even came with tags (I didn't use) and a funnel (I did).  I bought 8 oz bottles, but in doing that, they do use a lot of Vodka, which upped the price.  

I also bought some vanilla beans on Amazon.  I read the reviews really carefully to find some that were not already split (apparently some people split them and take out the 'good stuff' and then sell the rest of the bean, which impacts your vanilla).  This company also had good reviews when it came to returns (if the seal breaks while shipping, they can mold).  I split my whole beans down the middle, but left about an inch together at the end b/c you just want it to infuse your alcohol and not have too many pieces floating around.  You can strain your vanilla after a few months, but....I'll leave that to the girls that get these.    
I then did some alcohol research and I learned not to use a bottom shelf Vodka, and not to use one infused with flavors.  Tito's was one that was recommended, so I went with that.  1 liter fills 4-5 bottles, depending on how full you make them.  
I put two beans (split in two) in the bottles, poured vodka over it, and sealed the bottles.  I also made some little tags for the front and I'm going to add an instruction tag.  I read these can be used within 8 weeks, but are best after 8 months.  It also says you can continuously refill your vanilla bottles, using the same beans for years.  I guess I'll let you know this time next year!  

The vodka is already amber (a few hours later), and I'm planning to shake them up every few days until I gift them away.  I probably spent almost $10 a bottle, but the bigger bulk you buy, the cheaper your vanilla will be.  

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