These two items are one of the simplest homemade gifts ever. There are only 2 ingredients for each recipe.
I bought my vanilla beans off of Amazon. The 1/2 pound for $30 is an amazing deal!
I made my extract in quart sized mason jars and used Rum as the alcohol. Vodka is the normal alcohol, but one of my friends who was going to be receiving this gift needed it to be gluten-free so I used Rum instead. I bought 3 Liters of Rum which fit perfectly into the 4 quart jars. For each jar, I added 12 vanilla beans which were sliced in half. Every once in a while I would take the jars out and shake them but for most of their 4 month life they sat in a cabinet just marinating.
When I removed the extract to package it into the gift bottles, I added 2-3 halves of a bean so that the extract could continue to get stronger.
The vanilla sugar is just as simple as the extract. To make Vanilla Sugar, I used the remaining vanilla beans along with Turbinado Sugar. Turbinado Sugar is the same thing as "Sugar in the Raw"; fortunately, there are also store brands. I placed the bag of sugar into an airtight container with the remaining vanilla beans sitting inside. The maintenance of this gift is the same as the extract, every once in a while I would take the container out and shake it to get different sugar near the beans.
I bought the bottles for the gifts from Specialty Bottles. They have an amazing selection in glass and plastic containers.
Below are the final products. The label on the extract is just a shipping label that I printed on my color laser printer. If you make your own labels, laser is better than inkjet because it won't bleed if it gets wet (the label in this picture has had some extract drip onto it already).
Hope everybody else is as excited about Christmas as I am. I enjoy making gifts for people so I'm already coming up with ideas for this year. Let me know if you try making these recipes, I would love to see how you decorate the bottles!
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