The holidays are fast approaching, but there’s still time for assembling some personalized gifts. And virtually everyone uses vanilla in the kitchen– from adding it to baked goods to spicing up a hot cocoa, everyone seems to need and have vanilla on hand. And making your own is a personalized gift that keeps on giving, and it’s easier than you think.
All you need is bottle of decent quality vodka and 3-4 vanilla beans. Split the pods in half (don’t scrape the seeds out) and put them in the bottle of vodka. Put the bottle in a cool, dark place (the pantry or under the sink is good) and walk away. Six to eight weeks later, you’ve got a fantastic bottle of infused vanilla to give as gifts. Pour the vanilla through cheesecloth to strain away any small bits of seed and pod. Decant vodka into smaller bottles (individual serving size wine bottles with the screw on caps are perfect). If you’d like the recipient to be able to replenish their own vanilla supply, put a fresh vanilla bean into the small bottle, and include an instruction card that says to top the bottle off with vodka to keep the vanilla going.
You can print or draw your own label on sticker paper, and decorate the bottle with raffia, ribbon, etc. Packaging it with a few recipes that use vanilla (sugar cookies, vanilla whipped cream, hot cocoa, etc.) is a nice touch.