12 Days of Healthy Holiday Gifts: 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)

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 »

You Might Also Like:

Next Up

3 Classic Holiday Roasts with Sides to Match

Choose the star of your menu — beef, turkey or ham — then plan your feast!

6 Must-Do Tasks for Surviving Holiday Party Season

There's no reason the most wonderful time of the year should leave you burned out.

Gluten-Free Holiday Baking

During holiday baking season, those who are sensitive to or intolerant of gluten needn’t miss out on all the sweet seasonal treats.

20 Healthy Easter Side Dishes

Find healthy spring side dish recipes for serving at your Easter celebration.

57 Best Valentine's Day Gifts for Chocolate Lovers

Set the bar high this Valentine's Day with handcrafted truffles, breakable hearts, molten lava cakes and other indulgent gift ideas.

FoodNetwork.com Staffers' Mother's Day Recipe Picks

What should you make this year to truly spoil Mom? Get some inspiration from FoodNetwork.com staffers and our varied Mother’s Day traditions.

The Best Food-Themed Christmas Gift Wrap, Cards, Bags and Tags

Here's how to make what's outside your gift box just as pretty as what's inside!

20 Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts for Food Lovers

You still have time to get Mom an extra-special gift this year!

Breakfast in Bed Recipes That'll Make Dad's Day

Here's how to make this his best Father's Day yet.