Every year our family makes one signature gift to give to teachers, friends, neighbors, and family. In the past, I always gave homemade food gifts, from fudge and peppermint bark to gourmet trail mix and chocolate truffles.
I can’t tell you how many years I swore to myself that I wouldn’t eat any of the broken pieces, and I always ended up eating about 1/3 of what I made… a little piece here and a little piece there.
So a few years ago, I resolved to make a non-food holiday gift that wouldn’t tempt me (or the recipients) to overindulge.
Here are 2 of my greatest hits:
Although technically edible, I’ve decided to make vanilla extract this year because it is useful, a little decadent, and smells fantastic.
Time: 2-4 months
- Quart sized Mason jar
- 6 4 oz. gift bottles with labels (see sources below)
- 20 vanilla beans (see sources below)
- 3 cups Vodka, 80 Proof/40% alcohol (or you can also use bourbon, rum or brandy). I prefer to use vodka bottled in glass rather than plastic. It doesn’t have to be high quality. I used Smirnoff 80 Proof.
6 Easy Steps:
- The first step is to purchase some high quality vanilla beans (see sources below).
Did you know that there are different types of vanilla beans? I chose Madagascar Vanilla beans for their rich, dark, and creamy quality.
Madagascar Vanilla Beans have a traditional, rich flavor and aroma.
Tahitian Vanilla Beans have a floral and fruity flavor and aroma.
African or Ugandan Vanilla Beans have a smoky, bold flavor.
- Chop the beans into 1/4 to 1/2 inch long pieces. Many recipes call for slicing and scraping, but if you simply cut the beans into small pieces, you can get the same results with less mess and effort.
- Place the cut vanilla beans in a lidded glass Mason jar with the vodka.
- Vigorously shake the jar once a day for 30 seconds for the next month, then leave the extract mature undisturbed for another month. By the holidays, this extract will be ready to share. The color and flavor will deepen with age.
- Strain the finished extract through cheesecloth or a coffee filter and use a funnel to fill your clean 4 ounce glass bottles for gift giving.
- Store in a cool, dark location.
Sources for bottles and labels:
I will make a few bottles for my own use too. I love vanilla extract and use it in lots of recipes. Try one of my favorites, Apple Pie Smoothie (recipe below), or any of these (find more on PCOSDiva.com or in my meal plans):
Makes 1 serving
1 cup almond, hemp or coconut milk
1 small apple, chopped
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 T almond butter
1 scoop PCOS Diva Power Protein
5 ice cubes
Blend all ingredients until smooth. You may want to add water to thin to desired consistency.