Home-made Vanilla Extract!

Posted on December 24, 2011

Sorry, I have hardly kept up with this blog at all this year.  I am planning an overhaul of my web/blogsite soon, and that will contain all my newest stuff, but if you are interested in keeping up with my work, check out my Facebook fan page here.  (For some reason, I’ve preferred to keep my Facebook posts more up-to-date than my blog posts.)  However, since the holiday season is upon us once more, here’s another step-by-step DIY post for ya…

At our Christmas bunco last week, the ladies got these really cool, home-made vanilla extract in fancy bottles as consolation prizes, courtesy of our awesomely creative friend, Rebecca Garrett. Sadly, she has moved to another town (boo!), and December bunco will never be the same… but thanks to her, I got inspired to make my own vanilla extract to give to the boys’ teachers as Christmas presents this year!!! :-)

The recipe from Pinterest suggested vodka as the alcohol base, but after talking to the knowledgeable “wine guys” at Whole Foods, they highly recommended using Bourbon Whiskey instead. After all, when you go splurge on the “expensive” vanilla extract, it’s usually “Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla” which means it is made with Madagascar vanilla beans soaked in Bourbon. :-)

Got these cute red-topped bottles from Cost Plus World Market. Both the Reno and Sparks stores are completely sold out of them (Gee, I wonder why?), but the Carson City store still had quite a few left… so I went there after my South Lake Tahoe photo shoot this past weekend and got me enough bottles to give to all the boys’ teachers and assistant teachers (plus one for me to keep for myself). *Four boys in school means A LOT of bottles!!!

My boys jokingly called the tops, Super Mario mushrooms!!!

Cut each vanilla bean crosswise and lengthwise…. (The Madagascar vanilla beans were also from Cost Plus World Market, but I was told you can buy them cheaper in bulk from Beanilla.com.)

Put the equivalent of three whole beans in each bottle…

Looks pretty already!

Measure out six ounces of bourbon. (The formula is one vanilla bean for every two ounces of bourbon.)

Six ounces = 3/4 of a cup, in case you forgot the math. ;-)

Pour alcohol into bottle using funnel. (Pour some of the leftover drops into your own mouth!  Just kidding.  Okay, not really.)

Seal with pretty red mushroom cork…

Admire pretty light patterns…

And pretty red tops…

Practice some artsy photo-taking…

a couple times…

Admire pretty light patterns one more time…

Print out home-made labels onto sticker paper (from Office Depot). (I have the pdf file of this label, if you need it. I created it myself, so you won’t find it on the internet.)

The normal steeping time is 1-3 months… but it only gets better with age… And the best thing about vanilla extract is, it never expires!!!

Stick labels on the bottles…

Prettify with cute ribbon…

And voila! A super adorable gift people will actually use!!!

Make sure to tip each bottle sideways and wet the cork to ensure an even better seal. Learned that from the wine guys as well! :-)

Admire pretty bottles lined up in a row with beautifully blurred background…  I can’t help it!  I am a photographer! :-)

Thanks for the inspiration, Rebecca!!! :-)







All images and text Copyright 2012 by Amen Photography. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.