Homemade Vanilla Extract as A Gift - When and How to Get Started
If you’re considering making your own homemade vanilla extract to give as a gift, you've come to the right place! There is something special about making a homemade gift for a loved one. This gift can even be individualized to feature specific flavor profiles, geographic locations, or favorite brands of liquor.
The most important factors to consider when you're thinking of making vanilla extract are:
1. What kind of vanilla beans will you use?
2. What type of alcohol will compliment the flavors of the chosen vanilla bean?
3. What kind of bottle will this be made, stored, or gifted in?
4. When should you start making the extract so it's ready in time to gift?
While it seems like a lot to consider, it’s certainly worth the effort. As soon as you make your first batch of vanilla extract, you'll realize just how simple it is and how much better homemade vanilla extract tastes.
Making Homemade Vanilla Extract as a Gift
Step 1 – Slice the beans lengthwise, cut them into halves or thirds, and place them in a glass jar
Step 2 – Cover the beans with alcohol
Step 3 – Seal the bottle and give it a few shakes to begin with, then shake it again every 1-2 weeks
Step 4 – The hard part - wait around 6-12 months for the full extraction to take place
Those are the basics, now let's cover some of the variations and options that can help personalize your gift.
The Different Options for your Vanilla Extract
If you are experimenting with making homemade vanilla extract for the first time, you might want to try out a few different options and see which you prefer. It's also a great idea to gift a smaller trio of extracts with slightly different flavor profiles!
Which type of vanilla bean should you choose for vanilla extract?
There are two different grades of vanilla beans - Grade A and Grade B - but which is best?
Generally speaking, for longer-timed baking projects, such as making sugar or vanilla extract, use Grade B. For shorter-timed things, such as dinner or desserts, Grade A is suggested.
Which type of alcohol should you use for vanilla extract?
If you’re considering which alcohol is best to use in Vanilla extract, you have three main options.
Each of these options offers a slightly different taste profile. You may want to experiment and make up different batches to see which you prefer. Or, if you are making vanilla extract as a gift, you could choose the recipient’s favorite booze.
Which type of storage container should you choose for vanilla extract?
Knowing how to properly store vanilla beans once you have them is key. The same applies when you make vanilla extract. Moisture and air need to be avoided at all costs when you look into the storage options for your vanilla beans. As for which type of storage container is best for your vanilla extract, you should always try to get an vacuum sealed or airtight glass container. Ideally, it would be tinted or glazed.
Thinking ahead, you may want to give your gift of vanilla extract in the same jar you use to make it. The longer you can leave the beans and the alcohol to extract, the better the taste will be over time. Just like a fine wine, pure vanilla extract matures with age.
A note on storage: never, ever store your beans in a refrigerator or freezer, and always keep them away from any sunlight.
How long until it’s ready?
If you’re planning to make homemade vanilla extract as a gift, you'll have to be sure you have plenty of time to get started. Be sure to order your vanilla beans in advance so there's no need to rush the process!
Once you have all the items you need, there needs to be at least an 8 week period between you placing the beans in the jar and the extract being ready to use. In fact, the longer you can leave the beans in the alcohol, the further along the extraction will be, meaning the recipient can use their extract sooner.
If you're more of a last-minute gift giver, add a personalized label or tag noting when the vanilla extract will be ready to use. The recipient might enjoy "helping" make it, and then you can share the agony of waiting together.
There's no time like the present to get started!