Have you started your holiday baking yet? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve already gone through a fair bit of vanilla extract. A staple in virtually every baked good, vanilla adds mellow flavor and richness, and it enhances sweetness wherever it is used. Cakes, cookies, custards and cupcakes: If you can bake it, vanilla can make it better. What’s not to love?
Buying vanilla extract is one of those purchases that feels like a necessary evil. That little bottle with the big price tag may seem like the cost of doing business in the kitchen, so it may come as a surprise to learn just how easy it is to make it yourself for a fraction of the price of store-bought.
Requiring little more than vanilla beans, cheap booze and time, homemade vanilla extract is one of my favorite holiday DIYs. It’s sure to get a lot of use in my own kitchen, and, when brewed in decorative bottles or jars, the beloved elixir makes a great gourmet gift that can be prepared well before the hustle and bustle of the holidays gets out of hand.