I made vanilla

And you can too. There is no shortage of posts on the interwebs about making vanilla, probably because it's so easy to do. But in case you've been under a rock and this is the first you've seen of homemade vanilla, I hope it inspires you to make your own. If nothing else, you'll have a pretty picture at the end of it all.

Back in January I read some blogger's post about vanilla and thought, if her, why not me? My lovely friend Nicole had gifted me vanilla beans for my birthday the previous June, and I knew I needed to use these beans up in some way, though as I've recently read, they apparently have a very long shelf life, so long as they are kept in a dark cool place and they aren't left in conditions susceptible to mold production. The fridge, so I read, is one of those places. Mine were in fine condition if a little dried out, so I rehydrated them by microwaving in a damp cloth for about fifteen seconds. I just made this up, and later read that I could just put them in warm water to rehydrate. I would choose that process if doing this again, because it was difficult to split mine open. I had many different kinds of beans, so decided to make three different vanillas, using three different boozes. You can see above what I ended up with. I poured a cup of each booze (buy the swill!) into a mason jar and tucked in two of each bean into the jar, after slicing them open down one side of the bean, so the insides would permeate the alcohol, and vice versa. 

The directions I read said to put in a dark cool place, shake every two weeks, and in two months I'd have vanilla. But in two months I had strong alcohol scented with vanilla. I put the lids back on, and tried again at three months. Still pretty alcohol-y. Finally, about five months in I tried again, and I think it was finally ready. I have used the rum vanilla in french toast batter, and the bourbon vanilla in cookie batter, right out of the mason jar. Yum I say, yum. It's pretty good stuff, and cheap as all get out to make, when you consider what you pay for an ounce or two at the store. I made 24ish ounces, enough for myself and gifts for friends, for about $20, considering mason jars and booze. My beans, of course, were free. My friend got them online I think, and I bet you could too. If you like those bottles you see above, I ordered them from Specialty Bottle and they were lovely to do business with - they missed one dropper in the order and promptly mailed me another one, it arrived within two days. Getting the vanilla in the bottles was a bit of a chore, involving a tiny strainer and a turkey baster, with some spillage. I might suggest trying to find a large dropper for this, or alternately a tiny funnel.

Make your own vanilla, save yourself some money in the long run, and make more interesting types than what you can buy. Plan ahead. Hopefully you'll come across this post in the next month and you'll have gifts ready at Christmas!  

I know this isn't a baking post, but it is baking related, right? Posts to follow, soon! I promise!

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