Listen, do you hear that? Yep - it's Christmas carols playing in the background. Welcome to Christmas in July.
Okay - so you may be saying "Bah! Humbug!" right about now because it wasn't so long ago that we chased the cold temperatures away. However, in less than 90 days, our homes will be filled with fall colors and flavors and that means we are on the express train to the holidays.
So as our daylight gets shorter and our outside temperatures start downward once again, it's time to make some preparations.
In our house, there is a fair amount of baking that goes on in the fall and winter. Today I wanted to share with you my recipe for homemade vanilla extract. If you've noticed, the price of real vanilla has skyrocketed in the stores and I won't even think about using the imitation stuff.
It's much more economical to make your own but it does take a little planning ahead of time. It will need to sit for about six weeks before it is ready to use.
This recipe does use alcohol - however - the alcohol evaporates during baking. The alcohol also prevents most bacteria from growing and is necessary to extract the flavor from the vanilla beans.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
What you'll need:
7 - 10 vanilla beans
8 ounces vodka or white rum (going cheap here is A-OK!)
What to do:
Using a sharp knife, run a slit lengthwise down the vanilla bean to open it up. Cut the vanilla beans in 1-inch pieces and place in a pint sized mason jar. Pour the alcohol over the beans making sure that they are completely covered. Place the lid on the jar and gently shake.
Place your jar in a cool, dark area. Give it a shake every 2 - 3 days for about six weeks. The longer you let it steep, the more intense the flavor will be.
Once your extract has reached its desired strength, strain out the beans using a mesh strainer and store in a clean bottle with a tight fitting lid.
Easy right?!?! This makes a great gift so make an extra batch for a friend (you'll be immediately moved to best friend ever status!)
Now that I have you thinking about Christmas, please tell me - what homemade gifts to you give during the holidays? Comment below and share your ideas with our community. It will be fun and inspirational to see what everyone does.
And - if you found this post to be helpful, please pass it on to your friends!