Wednesday, December 03, 2008

holiday herbal gift series #3 - vanilla

For some, a handful of vanilla beans tied and presented well would be a wonderful gift. In fact if you are thinking about someone who is just finding their way around the kitchen OR well versed in cooking, consider some of the exotic seasonings - star anise, cardamom pods, saffron, and vanilla beans for starters. Possibly a recipe or two, printed onto cards, so that they can dive right in. I saw an interesting recipe for vanilla cardamom pudding while sniffing around for this post. Vanilla beans can very simply be made into vanilla extract and homemade vanilla is the best! Some beautiful bottles, good vodka and split vanilla beans, and we're on our way. For a 6-8 ounce bottle of the extract, slice open 3 or 4 beans and insert into an empty bottle. Cover with vodka and give a good shake. The extract will be ready to use in a couple of weeks, but leave the beans in until just prior to use. I have seen the beans cut into 1" pieces. That isn't as pretty, but in that case I might just leave them in there, never straining, and refill the vodka a time or two.

Vanilla beans can also be inserted into a bottle or jar of honey to flavor it. Basically the same thing as the extract.

Vanilla and lavender sugar is a nice gift! Slice open a vanilla bean and remove the seeds. Mix the seeds with about 2 cups of sugar. Cut the bean/pod in half. Place the sugar that has been mixed with the seeds, the pieces of the bean, and a tablespoon full of lavender in a jar that is big enough that you can shake it on occasion and the contents can move around. After 2 weeks, remove the bean and package in decorative containers for gifts. Small bale jars are perfect!


Bridget Reno said...
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Dora Renee Wilkerson said...

Vanilla and sugar, Yummy! I can just smell it now. I don't know if I would eat it or just smell it (either way I bet it would be good..)

Dora Renee' Wilkerson