12 Days of Healthy Holiday Gifts: Homemade Vanilla Extract

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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)

Procedure

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.

Gift-Giving

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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