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  • Writer's pictureJanette Mitchell

Christmas Gift Making in April

Updated: May 3, 2021

I decided to start my Christmas gift making early this year. I’m not ever this organized, but this was prompted by a gift of vanilla beans I received from a colleague. I received 15 vanilla bean pods, and couldn’t think of how I could possibly use them all before they would go off, so I decided to see what best way to preserve them. Whilst researching I came upon the easiest and convenient way to preserve them – pickle them. Let me clarify. When I say pickle I refer to using alcohol in the making of vanilla extract (ie., get the beans drunk). The recipe is quite simple, and in four words: Vanilla beans in alcohol.

Most of the recipes that I came across for vanilla extract suggest using vodka, but I found one that uses bourbon. I don’t have an affinity to Bourbon, but it seems to be one of the popular spirits these days, and some of the receivers of this gift are Bourbon fans. Most recipes suggested not using your favorite (read: expensive) spirits, rather to use the less expensive varieties. To make vanilla extract, you only have to slice the beans down the centre length-wise and then submerge them in the spirit until they are covered completely. The ratio of vanilla beans to alcohol is simple: for every 4-5 beans, one cup of alcohol. Cover, then wait. And apparently the longer you wait, the better the extract. Most recipes suggested anywhere from 6-10 months for optimal flavour. That makes it 8 months for my batch to be ready in time for holiday gift giving. I only pray I don’t forget that I’ve made the extract by the time December rolls around.

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