12 Days of Healthy Holiday Gifts: Homemade Vanilla Extract

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, Healthy Holidays, December 1, 2010
Dana's Homemade Vanilla Extract

Starting today, we’re serving up a new healthy gift idea every day for 12 days!  First up: from-scratch vanilla extract your friends and family will love.

Using high-quality, pure vanilla extract can make all the difference in baked goods and whipped cream, but the good stuff can get pricey! You can make some that’s beyond better for a fraction of the cost.  This gourmet-caliber extract makes an ideal hostess gift or stocking stuffer for anyone who loves to cook.

Vanilla Extract
Some extracts only contain imitation vanilla flavoring – real vanilla beans are the only way to go. Splurge on the best beans you can find (they should cost around $2.00 to $3.00 each) and save on the vodka – buy what’s on sale and spend $20 or less for a liter.

What You’ll Need

1 liter vodka
4 vanilla beans
8 (4-fluid ounce) food-grade glass bottles with caps (available at craft stores or online)

Heat vodka in a medium saucepan until warm. Split and scrape out the seeds from vanilla beans and place it all (pods and seeds) in a large sealable glass jar or container. Pour in warm vodka, cover and shake to combine. Place in a cool, dry place to infuse for at least one week (two is even better). Strain and use a funnel to transfer to glass bottles. Cut each bean pod in half and place a piece in each bottle.

To give your vanilla a personal touch. Make simple labels on the computer, wrap in clear cellophane bags tied with a bow.

TELL US: What homemade gifts are you making this year?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (90)

  1. Jessica says:

    this is brilliant!! I am totally doing this!!:)

    • sandra stahler says:

      Am making homemade pure Vanilla and putting in 2 oz amber bottles.
      Also making large tray of homemade variety of cookies also adding a 1lb. bag Dunkin' Donuts Coffee
      to this tray and giving as Christmas Presents to friends.

  2. […] See more here: 12 Days of Healthy Holiday Gifts: Homemade Vanilla Extract […]

  3. Deborah says:

    Dumb question…does the alcohol cook out and just left with the flavor?

    • danawhite says:

      Hi Deborah –
      The vodka is not heated long enough to cook out the alcohol. Since vanilla extract is used in such small amounts, the alcohol (and calories from it) are very minimal. In this recipe, the alcohol is used as a way to capture and preserve the flavor of the vanilla beans. Thanks for your question.

    • Lee says:

      A little bit of alcohol cooks out but the majority is left in.

  4. […] Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog [expanded by feedex.net] Posted in Healthy Eating […]

  5. […] See more here: 12 Days of Healthy Holiday Gifts: Homemade Vanilla Extract […]

  6. Mere says:

    This year I'm giving Peach Pie Jam (that won a blue ribbon at the local fair), Apple Jelly (it won a second place ribbon), and Zinfindel Cranberry Sauce (it won a first as well). There is also a spice blend I made myself, Tuscany Lemon Garlic (great on chicken and pork), and chocolate-drizzled nut clusters. I make these baskets every year with different items, and it makes me feel that these gifts truly show how much I care for the people that receive them. I am making twenty two this year. Usually I have a friend to help, but this year I went solo. It's a lot of work, but I really enjoy it.

  7. Janel says:

    I LOVE this idea! What a great DIY gift.

  8. Janlee says:

    Does the quality (cost) of the vodka matter? Also, could you infuse it with other things to make other kinds of extracts? Thanks for such a great idea!

    • danawhite says:

      Hi Janlee –
      You really don't need a high-end or expensive vodka for this. I suggest using one that will cost you $20 or less for a liter. Citrus peels also work well with this method to make lemon or orange extract.

  9. feastonthecheap says:

    Huh, how did i not realize vanilla extract is made with vodka. Will have to try this – tired of paying $10 for a tiny bottle!

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