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Preserves

Homemade Vanilla Extract: Day 70

It’s time for a progress report on the homemade vanilla extract. On October 8, I poured myself two big jars of booze, stuffed each one with 32 vanilla beans, and promised to report back in two months. (See Vanilla Extract: Day One for details about getting started.) The first jar was a quart of straight Stoli vodka, but then I listened in on a tip from Phoebe at Hillbilly Creations and decided to start the second batch in silver rum. So far, I like both very much, but I do think the silver rum expresses slightly greater depth of flavor. I’m sold on it.

The extract will continue to improve as it steeps but, at two months, I’m finding it to be both fragrant and giftable. I’m decanting it as needed into perfect 50ml (1.7 ounce) and 60ml (2 ounce) bottles from the Sunburst Bottle Company. The prices at Sunburst are reasonable and they’re nearby in Sacramento, so shipping was affordable and efficient. Great customer service, too. (They’re not giving me anything to say this!)

I’ve been pouring the finished extract through a fine mesh strainer into a drinking glass and then using a small funnel to fill the jars. Even so, I spill some every time. Rather than get frustrated, I’m seeing this as a benefit, because it means I am surrounded by a happy vanilla smell for hours. I snip a piece of bean to include in each jar, then I finish the bottle with these little hole-punched tags that I cut from some fancy paper I found in my stash of such things. (Do you collect papers and bits of twine and stuff like I do? I’m like a bird that way.)

By far the best thing about this project has been how delighted my friends have been to receive their bottles. If they don’t already know how it’s done, most have reacted with fascination and surprise at how easy it is, and said they want to do it, too. When it comes to gifting a DIY project, what’s better than that?

But we’re not done yet . . .

If you pop back over to Phoebe’s page, you’ll see that after making extract, she uses the boozy beans to make vanilla sugar. And after that, the same beans (now dried out) can be used to make vanilla powder. I’m going to experiment with both of these projects and will continue to report back.

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