Beyond the Food Gifts: Vanilla Extract (with bonus recipe) - PCOS Diva
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Beyond the Food Gifts: Vanilla Extract (with bonus recipe)

non-food holiday gift vanilla-extract-recipeEvery 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:

Lavender Linen Spray

Bath Salts

Although technically edible, I’ve decided to make vanilla extract this year because it is useful, a little decadent, and smells fantastic.

Vanilla Extract

                                                              Makes 6 (4-oz.) bottlesvanilla-gift-540x360

                                                              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 andvanilla-540x360 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:

Vanilla beans




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 or in my meal plans):

Meyer Lemon Blueberry Tartlets

Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie

Hot Chocolate

Cranberry Pecan Breakfast Cookies

Apple Oatmeal Spice Crumb Cake

Apple Pie Smoothie

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

1 T PCOS Diva Power Greens

2 t PCOS Diva Fiber Powder

5 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients until smooth. You may want to add water to thin to desired consistency.

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  1. Do you put 20 cut up beans in each mason jar? Also, does one mason jar make 6 4oz bottles?

  2. These are so cute. I was looking at the online labels and was wondering what size label do you use on the 4 ounce bottle? Thanks.

  3. Yes, each jar should have 20 cut up beans. There are 32 ounces in a quart size mason jar.

  4. Savvy article , I Appreciate the information – Does someone know where my assistant could possibly get ahold of a sample a form example to edit ?