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Why I’m talking about Christmas in May

The sun is shining, strawberries are starting to ripen (if we can keep the birds out of them), and the garden is starting to take shape.

So naturally, it’s time to discuss Christmas presents, right?

I know, that season of chaos, cocoa, and gift giving seems so far away.  I get it; you don’t want to even think about it.  However, a little upfront investment and 10 minutes of your time now means an amazing present you can give your friends and family later this year.  I’m of course talking about homemade vanilla extract.

This stuff is a hot commodity around my family and coworkers at Christmas, and my aunt always lusts after my bottles of the stuff “brewing” during family dinners.

The original directions on how to make this are posted here.  My only addendum to the recipe is if you start it in spring/summer, place the containers in a sunny window for a few weeks.  It will jumpstart the batch…like vodka sun tea almost.  Two weeks in my west facing window produces results that usually take me four months to achieve if the vanilla is just placed in a dark room.  This batch was started on May 8th:


You know that scene during the opening credits of True Blood? Where the catfish (?) is in the muddy water? Vanilla extract always reminds of me that. Drink up!

After a few weeks, I transfer the vanilla to my pantry where it’s dark and let it finish “curing” for a few more months.  I find the sun steeped batches still smell too heavily of vodka, where the batches made entirely in the dark are much richer smelling.  Using a “sun first” approach, and then finishing it in the dark makes for a deeper extract that just using one method alone, and after a few months the boozy smell goes away.

Here is my source for vanilla beans online.  I used to use another company, but have had good experience with this one lately.  I had a problem with my order, and they resolved it instantly.  The customer service was fabulous, and good customer service always wins me over.  I’m easy.

That’s what she said.


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7 comments on “Why I’m talking about Christmas in May”

  1. YAY! I was just talking to my mom about this the other day and thinking I needed to look up when to start it brewing… I go through a lot of vanilla with baking so even if we do it just for ourselves we will be saving a ton of money… I love the gift idea though so I think we will do one round for ourselves this year to test it out and then more next year for gifts. Thanks for the reminder to get on this!

  2. So how much vanilla beans do you order to do how many quart jars. I was just trying to determine if it is a ~1/4lb per jar or if that will do 2 quart jars?

  3. So excited just ordered my beans along with the jars off your link. I love that you are thinking about this now and reminding me that it counts to think ahead. I have been reading your blog for over 3 years and still look forward to every post. Thanks for always motivating me and being real!

  4. I’m so lazy I only buy the vodka in glass bottles. Then I just brew it in the vodka bottle instead of taking up a valuable canning jar! 😉

    • I used to do that, but since I started putting them in my windowsill, I didn’t want my neighbors to think I’m a giant alcoholic! 🙂

  5. I’m calling dibs on the middle jar!