October 15, 2012 by Meg G.
Ahhh it’s good to be back in my own kitchen! Traveling has its perks, but eating out all the time can get old. So this Sunday, we started off our morning with a big breakfast of French Toast (made with English Muffins) + Sautéed Apples + Veggie Bacon. Yum!
We have a tendency to make big plans over big breakfasts. This morning, we started making a list of projects that we have in mind for the holidays. A few months ago, we decided to commit to a handmade Christmas. Our goal is to give as many handmade gifts as possible. What’s on the list, you ask? Well, we can’t tell you ALL of it! At least not right away. But since you asked, we’ll let you in on the first project: vanilla extract!
Months ago, I pinned a recipe for vanilla extract from this lovely blogger. Alexandra had already done pretty much all the research, so I was able to just jump on her bandwagon and get started! Here’s the scoop:
IndriVanilla is a Fair Trade vanilla bean supplier. Their beans are high on justice and quality and low on cost. Pretty much a win-win-win! We ordered a half a pound of gourmet (small) beans and received about 95 of them, for an average of about 30 cents each! Whoa!
Amazingly enough, vanilla extract is comprised of a few ingredients, a little bit of hands-on time, and a lot of patience.
Basically, you cut open some vanilla beans, scrape out the “caviar,” put it in a sealable jar, boil alcohol (IndriVanilla recommends 80 proof or higher rum), and then pour the alcohol into the jar. It should “steep” for at least 6 weeks in a cool, dark place – the longer, the better. Alexandra recommends a particular ratio for each type of bean. We wound up using 40 beans per 1.75 liters of rum. That was the perfect amount for two quart-sized mason jars. Check it out!
This is actually our second batch – so we compared the first jar (from just two weeks ago) with today’s jars.
You can already see how much darker it will get over time. Hooray!
After we finished up, Heather went out for a run and I decided to surprise her with a treat. I had leftover royal icing in the fridge after my last cookie adventure, so I frosted some animal crackers while she was out of the house. Ta da!