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Friday, December 7, 2012

Frugal Fridays- MYO Christmas Gifts #1: Gourmet Vanilla Extract & Vanilla Sugar

I have seen a tons of posts ALL over Pinterst in the past few years of DIY BLOGGERS making homemade Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Sugar...  

So this  is what I am planning on giving my son's therapists, my visiting nurses, my besties, and my mom, step mom, & sisters (in-laws too!) For Christmas this Year... ALONG w/Customized Truffles, Coconut Bon-bons, & Buckeyes Candies

IT is SOOOO easy you can't even imagine, can be quite frugal, you have to invest in medium priced vodka (too cheap gives the extract an aftertaste that more gourmet vanilla just doesn't have~ it's what sets them apart.) You can get about 15, 4-ounce extract gifts out of one bottle and about $15 for 1/2Lb Vanilla Beans (I bought 1 LB), before you add in the tags and decorative jar, you have spend about $2/person!! For Gourmet NEVER ending GOOD Vanilla (INA would APPROVE!!)
I also made the recipe SUPER SIMPLE: 

  • by adding the beans directly to the vodka bottles
  • I will strain the extract with a coffee filter and mesh strainer. Sterilize the gift bottles before I add in extract with a small funnel
  • I used the portion of  Vodka I had to remove, making room for vanilla beans, to make coconut extract (You could also make citrus extract or mint extract. Mint I would REMOVE after a week to avoid any mold or spoiling issues. The rest would be able to stay in to make a stronger flavor.)
The start up fee includes:

  • The best price for the amount rec'd I found online was Madagascar Bourbon Planifolia Extract Grade B Vanilla Beans 6~7" $31.95/Lb with FREE SHIPPING PLUS FREE I rec'd 1/8 pound of near gourmet Madagascar Planifolia vanilla beans. 
  •  You will need to add about 12 beans per 1.75L (about 1/4Lb)... Now there were quite a bit shriveled and hard to scrape all the seeds out, but I was pleased that most were plump and all was fragrant.  

If you plan to make gifts plus have some on hand you can really purchase 1/2Lb and be just fine. I bought a little more- but I will have it for at least a year.

  • The *Vodka- I bought 3- 1.75ML ($13/each) will make about 15- 4oz extracts in each bottle...I over bought, but I plan on giving some ppl a larger size and I want a LARGE size for my baking needs...  
*(I bought a medium price range vodka, "Smirnoff'"- When I went to State Liquor store within our neighborhood grocery store, the attendant knew nothing of the variety of vodkas they store carried. Fortunately for me the owner of a high-class restaurant in town that is known for their cocktails and mixed drinks overheard me. He told me the restaurant had a blind taste test where about 75 or so ppl chose from a variety of vodkas and "Smirnoff" was the most chosen vodka. So I decided on that brand)

  • Decorative containers, there is about 60 oz in a 1.75L bottle, you loose about 1.3oz of your bottle when you add in beans, so account for that loss (I poured the excess into a smaller glass container and added some organic unsweetened coconut to make coconut extract- I will add to my coconut bon-bons). I mistakenly bought the 1 oz size, now I have a TON of vanilla extract... (BUT I did save various decorative bottles that once held capers, artichoke hearts, jams, tahini paste, canning jars. So some I will give a small amount some I will give a larger size!)
Vanilla Extract:
  •  1/4 Lb beans per 1.75L bottle of vodka (I use Smirnoff*), pour about 1.3 oz of vodka out in small container then cut beans into quarter (I didn't cut in half and scrape, b/c seeds will come out over the 12 weeks "curing time"), replace lid.
Place in a cool, dark area for about 9-12 weeks to develop a more rich and gourmet deep flavor.  

DON'T FRET if you have started this later than you had hoped, you could always make a tag that reads, "For best flavor-Don't use until ___date". I think the recipient of the gift would love rec'ing the extract then wait expectantly to use later, like 2 gifts in one! :-)

Vanilla Sugar:
  • From the same batch of beans I added about 3-5 beans per 19 once glass containers, filled with sugar, then added lid. 
I then shook the jar once/week to distribute the sugar. This will keep about a year, if kept air-tight will nearly be indefinitely, its the humidity that will compromise your beans and cause mold. So an air-tight container is a must, if you want this to really last! 
Coconut Extract in center made with the vodka I had to pour out to add in beans
Your extract will immediately darken, and continue to do so, you will see flecks, this is the seeds and IS NORMAL, that is the FLAVOR

Shake once a week and leave alone to develop the rich sweet smoky vanilla goodness!

The sugar will start to clump, keep shaking the jar to break up clumps and incorporate the vanilla taste throughout. Now specks and flakes  are normal for vanilla sugar

What I intent to do, bc I am not sure the recipients of these gifts will understand 
the flakes and pods are normal-  
I will be using a food processor to on half of gifts to blend the pods, sugar, and seeds.  

The rest I hope will be ok, bc you can continue to add sugar to the pot, and have a "Never Ending" vanilla sugar to add to coffee, teas, baked goods, breakfast foods...

Oooohh yeah!!

Linked to Weekend Potluck

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