One of the first crafts I planned for our Country Chic rustic theme wedding was a wedding favor that would be homemade by me and my husband. I came across a tutorial for homemade vanilla extract and fell in love with the idea! Who doesn’t use vanilla extract? My husband and I enjoy cooking together so I figured it would be the perfect favor that we could enjoy making together.
I began my research by searching online for a recipe – and who knew it was such an easy concoction, vanilla beans + vodka = vanilla extract, Voila!
My friend Angela over at Ai Love Baking helped me out with the perfect recipe for the vanilla extract, tips on where to buy premium vodka at a great price and suggestions on purchasing vanilla beans (did you know there are a variety of different types of vanilla beans?!).
Here is my supply list for the homemade extract:
- Vodka (try to use a medium or premium grade)
- Extra large vanilla beans
- 8 oz Clear Glass Round Bottles
- Cork stoppers
- Wash all the glass bottles in a dishwasher
- Slice all the vanilla beans lengthwise, cut the tips off and spread open
- Fold the bean in half and push 2-3 beans into each glass jar
- Fill each jar with vodka leaving a little room at the top for the cork
- Cork each bottle and give it a good whirl to loosen up some of the vanilla
- I saved the boxes the bottles came in and placed the finished bottles back in the boxes
You can make the vanilla extract months in advance, and allow at least 2-3 months for the vanilla to infuse with the vodka. If you can remember, try to give all the bottles a whirl every other week or so to monitor the process.
Vodka – Angela suggested I use Costco’s brand of french Vodka- however in New York you cannot buy liquor in any store except a liquor store so I wound up purchasing a different brand. We did make the mistake in the end of using a very cheap Vodka because we ran out. We noticed those bottles of extract did not turn a very dark amber since there was probably a lot of water mixed in with the vodka. It’s important to do a test sample before you make a huge batch. You can also use rum in place of vodka. A flavored vodka or rum would customize your blend to perhaps match the theme of your wedding (coconut-vanilla extract for a beach theme wedding).
Vanilla Beans- There are a variety of types of beans you can use, all with a slightly different flavors and intensity. I ordered our beans from Beanilla. They weren’t necessarily the cheapest but I liked their selection and their website the best. When we prepared the vanilla we sliced the beans in half to make them fit into the bottles easier, but I prefer the way it looks to put a whole folded bean into the bottle, so we changed our process mid-way through.
Bottles – I hard a hard time finding glass bottles that I really loved. The ones I liked the most were from Save-on Crafts, but the shipping was more money than the bottles so I decided to order a sample from SKS Bottles and Packaging – they were extremely helpful and nice enough to send me free samples and helped me with sizing for the corks. The bottles were item #40000080.03S and the corks were item #3006-06. It was about $75 for the packaging.
Labels – One of the most fun parts of this project for me was creating a label design. I used some of my favorite fonts and favorite colors, teal and pink. I was able to design and print the labels at home using my injet printer and Avery 22830 labels (2.5″ round, glossy). Adhere the labels after you pour the vanilla extract and cork the bottles so you don’t stain the label.
I finished off the bottle by tying a little piece of teal baker’s twine around the neck that I got from The Twinery.
Here is a free download of the label template for you to use on your bottles so they look just like mine! I left our name and wedding date off the design so you can fill in your own.
Don’t forget to save a few bottles for yourself to use!
p.s. Remember that guests who have to fly to your wedding will not be able to travel home with this. So ship them ahead of time or remember to bring home the leftovers to send to them with your thank you card!