Now is a great time to get a head start on some Christmas gifts! Homemade vanilla extract is pretty simple to make (you really can’t mess it up!) and makes a lovely stocking stuffer come December. If you start it now, it will be ready to use for Christmas! Plus, it’s that much less stress on shopping for last minute gifts.
I made two options for homemade vanilla extract labels, depending on your style. One has a more vintage feel with an old drawing of a vanilla plant, flower, and bean. The other is a more modern typography label. Both have places to record who made the extract and when it can be used. Pure vanilla extract doesn’t go bad so no need to worry about an expiration date.
Both label images will work with OL5030 labels, which I used in both light tan and matte white.
To make homemade vanilla extract you need two things: vanilla beans and vodka.
The quality of the vodka is not super important, but you do want some quality beans as that is where your flavor will come from. I found some great gourmet Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans on Amazon.
Cut ~10 vanilla beans lengthwise, but don’t cut completely through, just enough to open one side and expose the seeds inside the bean. Add beans to the vodka bottle. Shake and store in a dry, dark space. Go back and shake the bottle every couple of days. (I am keeping mine in the pantry. It’s dark and dry and every time I open the door to get something I see the bottle and give it a little shake. It’s easy to remember since I still see it when working in the kitchen.)
The vanilla extra will be ready to use in about 12 weeks, but the flavor intensifies the longer the beans soak in the vodka so you really can’t overdo the process. Once you’re ready to put your gifts together, pour extract into bottles, cap, and apply the homemade vanilla extract label.
You can dress up the bottle, and it’s ready to be presented as a gift!
Things to note:
You can put sliced vanilla beans directly into the bottles you will give away (these are 5 oz. bottles so add 2-3 beans each). You will need to shake each bottle periodically while the extract “cures.” You will also need to either 1) remove the beans prior to gifting the extract or 2) let people know that once the liquid level dips below the beans that they will need to be removed as they could start to mold.
To test if your homemade vanilla extract is ready to use, add a few of drops to a glass of milk and stir. If you can taste the vanilla in the milk, you are all set! You may be able to smell the vanilla in the extract, but the alcohol smell will still dominate, just like in store bought extract.