Monday, 25 June 2012

vanilla & ribbon

Have you ever read the five love languages? The book uses a series of quizzes to determine how you naturally show love and expect to receive it. My results were pretty much exactly what I expected: Quality time was the definite winner with the other four (gift giving, words of affirmation, physical touch, and acts of service) trailing waaaaay behind.

Point? If you love me, spend time with me.

But that is not what this post is about. Even though it was not high on my list, gift giving is still important and is an important way to show other people that I care about them. However, gifts only seem really special to me when they have clearly involved time and effort. (do you see what I did there?)

All of this is a round-a-bout way of saying that I like to make gifts, but that it is important to me that I make them pretty and special and unique. 

Last year, for Christmas, I made, packaged and gave out bottles of vanilla extract to my baking-inclined friends. They made for sweet, little gifts that were relatively easy to make, but took a bit of time and patience to get together. Even if you're not looking to give gifts, this is also a cost effective way to make your own vanilla extract if you're a frequent baker.

You will need: glass bottles, vanilla beans, vodka or bourbon, sticker paper, ribbons and wrapping paper.

1. Source your glass bottles. I was going for 100-150mls but you can do any size you like depending on how generous you are/how much baking you do. I bought mine from an online shop that sells bottles for aromatherapy - which were especially good because they came with sealed caps, so that the present recipients knew they were brand new.

2. Source your vanilla beans. Buying vanilla beans in the shops is expensive! Often you'll pay $5-$7 for each bean! No, no, no. Go for ebay instead. Order them in bulk to get a better price, and hopefully you'll win a ridiculously low bid like i did (99c for 20 beans!). There are many types of vanilla beans that have slightly different flavour profiles. Really, any of them will work for extract, but I've gone for the classic madagascan vanilla beans. You'll need 1 bean per 100mls.

3. Buy as much vodka or bourbon as you need to fill your bottles. This is the only liquid that goes into making extract. Bourbon makes for a more rounded, caramelised flavour whereas vodka gives you a clean vanilla flavour. I use vodka. Be careful when you buy alcohol for your baking. Don't leave it around the house or the boys that you live with will drink it. (hmph.)

4. To assemble your extract, split open the bean lengthways and scrape out the vanilla seeds. Carefully put the loose seeds and the whole, scraped bean into the bottle. Fill to the top with vodka or bourbon and store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 months before use. I waited the full 3 months before giving these as gifts so that they would be ready to go as soon as my friends got them, but if you need to give them away straight away, just pop a little note on it with the date that it will be ready to use.

5. Making the labels is limited only by your design capabilities and imagination. I went with these simple, minimalist labels that only required some pa-rousing of to create.

6. Wrap them in some pretty paper with twine and a tag and there you have it; little bottles of love.

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1 comment:

  1. Hey, I am totally going to make these for Christmas gifts! What site did you buy the bottles from?
    Catherine xo