DIY Vanilla Extract

My darling husband (MJ) often surprises me with his seemingly random bouts of craft inspiration. In general, MJ is very “manly” – he plays in three sports leagues a week, watches football whenever it’s on (though he prefers college to professional when given a choice), will watch any other traditional sport when football is unavailable, etc. He will never knit. I say this with confidence because it seems that activities that are traditionally reserved for females, in his opinion, are just that – for females. He’s not averse to sewing on a loose button for the sake of functionality, but that is where he draws the line (and though he could sew the button, he would rather that I did it.)

So, last May, when he asked if we could learn to make our own flavorful vanilla extract, I was to say the least, surprised. Within but a few key strokes on the web, I had found a recipe. We were both astounded in its simplicity and it’s cost effectiveness.

  1. Split vanilla beans lengthwise with a sharp knife. Scrape beans into a Mason jar.
  2. Place in jar with 3/4 cup vodka for each bean.
  3. Be sure beans are completely covered with vodka.
  4. Seal tightly.
  5. Let stand in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 months, shaking occasionally.

So, we bought a large bottle of vodka. I thought that finding vanilla beans would be difficult. I looked all over the internet and it appeared I would have to order them. Fortunately, while riding my bike in downtown Oak Park, IL, I found a Penzey’s Spices store. They sell vials of three long vanilla beans for about $6. They had a sale going on when I was there, so I bought several vials – some Madagascar, Mexican, and Tahitian.

We made the extract and then distributed it into emptied mini-vodka bottles and gave them away as Christmas gifts.



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