Seeing the craft stores already preparing for the Christmas season has my thoughts turning towards Yule. I like to hand make decorations and gifts for the season. This time of year, I also begin making things like my homemade vanilla extract to use in my baking.
Homemade vanilla extract is ridiculously easy to do. I buy a small bottle of either a brandy or vodka. Added to it, I use whole vanilla beans that are sliced down the length. I scrape out a bit of the vanilla beans and add it to the liqueur, along with the vanilla beans themselves. Place the bottle on a pantry shelf to steep. I give it a shake to mix it all together about once a week. For a pint size bottle, I usually add 6-8 vanilla beans to give it a good, strong flavor. Once it has steeped for about 2 months, I strain the mixture and pour it into a bottle. This vanilla will make a year’s supply for me.
Often, I make a larger batch of vanilla extract with the intent to use as gifts. When making as a gift, toss a whole vanilla bean into the gift bottles. Fill with the extract and decorate the neck of the bottle to make it pretty.