I wanted to post this before Christmas but couldn't because it was what I gave to everyone in my family as part of Christmas this year. So I am posting now. In hopes that it encourages some of y'all to play around and make treats for yourself and others this year.
What kind of treats? Homemade extracts!
Does anyone remember this post that I did? That included the photo below?
I didn't have a par-tay, y'all! Or get all boozy in the corner of my bedroom. But I did use up both of those bottles of cheap vodka in about a half hour. Making extracts. And it was the most fun!
You will find zillions of recipes tell you to buy two and stick them in a big jar of vodka and three weeks later you have vanilla extract. Um...that's a lie. It will likely make really really strong vodka with a hint of vanilla. So if you want a drink base, do that.
* Whole Vanilla Beans
* For a bottle of vodka similar to one pictured above, remove about 1/4 of the vodka and place in a mason jar for later use.
* Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, split 15-20 vanilla beans in half, revealing the black stick beans inside.
* Place all of the split beans inside the vodka bottle. Be sure that they are all covered in liquid- if not add a little of the excess back in.
* Shake the sealed bottle every day for the first two weeks. After that, shake the bottle once or twice a week for at least two months. Best after three to four months.
* Keep vodka bottle in a cool, dark place (such as the back of a pantry).
* Strain liquid of beans and pods before pouring into dark amber bottles.
You can get great quality Madagascar vanilla beans at a great price from Amazon, ebay and a variety of other online sources. Don't buy them in the grocery store- those are waaaay too expensive per bean.
Doing this give you really strong, pure vanilla extract! And per ounce, it's actually a lot less expensive than purchasing it from a store.
Want to do something crazier with the extra vodka in the mason jar? Well if you want more vanilla, just shove more split vanilla beans in there too. Or...you can make one of the other flavors I made this past year that included: nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and rosemary!
To make nutmeg extract, I first placed several whole nutmegs in a plastic baggie. With a rolling pin or meat tenderizer, smash them up into big chunks. Not into a powder- but do break them up into pieces. Add them into a jar with vodka. Same deal as the vanilla extract. Shake shake every day for a few weeks and then let it sit quietly in a cool, dark corner for several months. Shaking every so often. I add a dash to sauces and soups all the time. Nutmeg is especially great in creamy soups.
Rosemary, cinnamon and clove are easier (if you consider splitting vanilla beans or smashing whole nutmegs difficult). Simply add fresh rosemary or whole cinnamon sticks or whole cloves into a jar with vodka. And again, same thing with the shaking and then letting it do it's thing in a dark corner for several months. Add rosemary to soups, sauces, and salad dressings. I've added clove and cinnamon to baked goods, tea and coffee so far.
By far my very favorite is the cinnamon! OMG it is insane. Smells outrageous. And the flavor....just out of this world. I used it to make cinnamon marshmallows this Christmas too and they were everyone's favorite. Crazy good in hot cocoa. Sort of makes it a little like Mexican hot chocolate with the spicy cinnamon added.
Now I had intended to order labels from etsy. However, I waited too long and was sweating getting the bottles before Christmas even. They arrived a few days before. So given my lack of time and energy, I simply used what I had on hand. A gold paint pen. I just wrote right on the little bottles and called it a Christmas gift. Hard to see in the photo below but I do promise they were all labeled.
I did also make one more thing with the vodka but that's coming in a second post when I get around to taking a photo. So stay tuned...
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