Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract at home is almost unworthy of a blog post because it is so easy, but bottling and gifting it is so cute, I couldn’t resist. This year, I decided to make a bunch for my work family and friends that I usually don’t give gifts to, but always wish I had, and it worked out perfectly.

Makes 15 (4 oz) Bottles

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 lb Vanilla Beans
1.75 Liters Alcohol  (Vodka, Bourbon, Brandy, or Rum)
Patience (2 months worth)

(If you aren’t making this in bulk, or making a different quantity,  I’d plan on using 3 or 4 vanilla beans for every 8 ounces of alcohol.)

EQUIPMENT:
2 quart-sized jars with lids
Scissors
15 (4 oz) bottles
Avery brown kraft labels & printer
Small Funnel

DIRECTIONS:
Separate the vanilla beans into two equal sized piles, one pile for each jar. Using your scissors, split the vanilla beans lengthwise, leaving the top 1/2 inch connected at the top. Place the vanilla beans in the jars and fill to the top with alcohol (I used Trader Joe’s “Vodka of the Gods”. While I know you can use any 80 proof alcohol, from what I can tell, Vodka seems to be the standard.)

Close off the jar and store in a cool dark place. This should live in your cabinet for at least a month, giving it a shake about once a week, before you plan on bottling it.

BOTTLING:
Once the vanilla extract is ready, open the small 4 oz jars and place 2-3 of the vanilla beans directly in each. This will allow the extract to continue to infuse, as well as allow the user to add small bits of vodka to the bottle to create an “everlasting” vanilla extract. Of course, it wont last forever, and the beans will run out of oomfuh… but we will just call it everlasting because that just makes it seem so much cooler. Using a small funnel, add the extract to each of the bottles. Some people prefer to strain it, but that just seems like crazy talk, so don’t do that. That’s like removing the goldflakes from the Goldschlager…

LABELING:
I created my labels in Photoshop directly and printed them onto the Avery kraft paper; however, there are many free sites that exist for label creation. There are even some free templates available that can be customized, if you’re not savvy in design. If you’re really at a loss, I have my label saved in Photoshop. While I won’t create a totally new custom label for you, I am willing to update mine with your info and send you the jpg, if you’re really good at begging and tell me I’m pretty.

One last note: I’d recommend not putting the labels on the bottles until they have been filled, or they might not look so pretty in the end. 

COST:
Bottles: $15.75
Vodka: $10.99
Vanilla Beans: $54.00
Labels: $5.29
Total: $86.03
Total per bottle: $5.74

Cheap, good quality, and pretty… just like me.

 

Homemade Bathbombs

Okay, I’ll admit it. I buy Lush Bathbombs for my 3 year old daughter. Am I wasting my money? Yes. Do I feel like the best mom in the world? Maybe. Would I up my cool-mom points by making them myself, a little smaller, and with smells she (errr…I) like? Absolutely. This was my first time making them and they were so easy I feel like a fool for not just buying the supplies and doing it myself from the start. I don’t know what the cost savings would be on these, but I can tell you it is much less than the kajillion dollars I spend in that store. I made a few of each size, and made one roll that we sliced, and they all turned out great. I learned a few lessons on the way, and I’ll share those as well.

This recipe will make 2 – Large 3 inch balls and a little extra. I opted to keep the recipe small so that I could play with different scents and colors, but you could very easily double or triple it and make a larger batch.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup Epsom Salt (fine)
1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup citric acid
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp coconut oil ( olive oil / almond oil )
1/2 tsp water
1 tsp essential oil
Pigment powder or 1-2 drops food coloring

OPTIONAL ITEMS
Bathbomb Molds or Saran Wrap
Flowerbuds / tea / petals etc… 
Shrink wrap
bags (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine all dry goods in a bowl (Epsom salt, citric acid, baking soda, cornstarch, pigment). Stir.
2. Combine all wet goods in a bowl (melted oil, 1/4 tsp water, essential oil, food coloring if not using pigment). Stir.
3. Add wet to dry slowly. The dry goods will fizz when wet, just try to stir quickly to minimize fizzing. You should have a consistency that is not wet and is not dry. From my experience, if you stir well, 1/2 teaspoon is perfect.
4. Add a few pinches of flowers/herbs/glitter/whatever to one side of the sphere molds and pack the mixture tightly on top of it. Do the same with the other side sans flowers. Then, add a little extra in the middle and cram those suckers together tightly. You can also use saran wrap to make a tube, and then cut the mold into slices, if you don’t have the molds. I didn’t try it, but I would guess you could pack these into cute cookie cutters too; I think I will try that next time.

5. Let them dry. After a few minutes (I just start on the next batch), you can CAREFULLY remove the molds from the spheres and marvel at your mad skills. You should plan on letting them dry for 24 hours before using or shrink wrapping them.



In case you were wondering, we made a Peppermint Eucalyptus (purple), Lemongrass (grey), Pomegranate Vanilla (peach) and a Mahogany / Fir (green). This is the green one in action:

Homemade Butter

Homemade butter is so incredibly easy to make, it almost feels silly to buy it after you make it the first time.

INGREDIENTS:
Whole Cream
Sea Salt
Love

Step1:
Pour whole cream into a pint-sized jar (or any size jar) with a tight fitting lid. We usually fill it about half way.

Step 2:
Shake it! It takes about 8-10 minutes of shaking, so be patient. Of course, you could just use a mixer, but what fun would that be. For Kennedy we bought one of the cheap plastic containers from Target (the one with the plastic straw and lid with a hole) and used a regular Kerr/Mason jar lid on it. Keep shaking! There will come a point where it wont feel like the liquid is moving anymore, keep going! It will separate into a large lump.

Step 3:Separate the Buttermilk from the Butter. Don’t worry about getting all of the liquid the first time. We don’t generally cook with Buttermilk, so we often just throw this away, but if you do make sure you have a jar or something to save it in. After separating, you will want to add water to the jar and shake it again (a few times) until the rinse water runs mostly clear. You don’t need to shake it long, just a few seconds.

Step 4:
By this point, you have officially made butter, now you just need to do what you can to get as much of the the liquid out as possible. We generally will put it into a large strainer (not necessary) and then put it into a large bowl. You can turn the butter with a spatula or wooden spoon, and strain off the excess liquid as you go; do this until most of the liquid has been removed.

Step 5:
All that remains is to add in any salt/herbs/honey that you choose (or nothing at all). We bought these four wide-mouth 8oz. Kerr Mason Jars for less than 5 dollars from Target. The one 1-liter whole cream container managed to fill two of these, with a little to spare. We love doing this as a family and we hope you will too.