They Say its Your Birthday

May 6, 2010 Ella
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So today happens to be my Birthday!  And I thought it only appropriate to carve some time out for a post. To celebrate this fancy new layout I thought I’d add some photos from the Annual Orchid Festival I went to a couple of weeks ago at the Bronx Botanical Garden.

I have one friend in particular who is the queen of birthday gifts and care packages (I’ve already recieved a great little gift in the mail from her!) and this recipe is inspired by her and the beautiful orchids I saw curated at this show.

Do It Yourself Vanilla Extract

Has it ever happened to you: You’re in the middle of a baking project. Folding together ingredients and you realize that you’re out of vanilla extract?  Might it also be 2 am on a Saturday night and that 24 hour grocery store just so happens NOT to be open 24 hours on Saturday night??

Pure vanilla extract isn’t something you should skimp on when you are baking.  Don’t buy the imitation vanilla and put it in your cookies or cake although imitation– particularly clear vanilla extract (not made from Orchids) has its own purposes in decorating).  I really suggest you go for the good stuff, made from the fruit of a particular species of orchid Vanilla Planifolia.  Orchids that produce vanilla are native to Mexico, and Madagascar, which is partially why its a little more pricey.

Making your own vanilla is really really simple, though it involves some waiting.  It can also make a great addition to a gift basket…for a birthday or just comes in handy when you think you’ve run out.  All you need are vanilla beans and vodka and a few jar to hold your sweet and fragrant elixir together.


3 Whole Vanilla Beans

1 c Vodka

Make sure your beans are plump and moist and shiney, not overly dried.  I’ve done some searching on the ratio of vanilla beans to vodka.  Some people say 1 bean to 1 cup of vodka.  Other people say three beans to 1 cup.  Both will make the vanilla extract you desire, the difference is how long you wait.

Split the vanilla bean down the center length wise.  Place into a mason jar, or other sealable glass jar. Glass is ideal this way you can see how the extract is progressing by checking the color.  Cover with vodka (make sure the beans are soaked)  and close.  The more beans per vodka you use the quicker the extracting process will happen.  The vanilla will be ready in about 2 months should you use 3 bean per cup, and can take up to 6 months to be fully prepared.

Using a funel you can package the prepared vanilla into smaller jars for gifts.  Leave part of the bean in the gift jar, this way your gift recieptients can add a little extra vodka when their supply gets low and within a few weeks they will have more vanilla ready to use.


Entry Filed under: Extracts and Spices

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erica  |  May 6, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Oooh! Can’t wait to try this!!!

  • 2. Chrissy  |  May 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Happy birthday, Ella! And thanks for inspiring me to make some more vanilla extract. I’ve been out for a while!

  • 3. Susana  |  May 7, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Happy Birthday Ella! Love your cartoon and home screen! How did you do that?

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