Homemade Holiday Gifts: Vanilla Sugar & Extract

Nicole Straight

Tired of giving your teachers and hosts the same bottle of wine, gift certificates, or coffee table books? Why not make your own eatable holiday gifts this year? CT Bites makes gift planning easy with our ongoing December feature "Homemade Holiday Gifts." No, we're not getting out the hot glue gun. We're getting crafty in the kitchen with delicious gift ideas that everybody will enjoy: Homemade Vanilla Extract & Vanilla Sugar.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ingredients for vanilla extract:

2 vanilla beans

vodka to fill the jar

glass jar with tight fitting lid


1. Use a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.

2. Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka.

3. Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer, or until color turns brown. (yeah, yeah...this one may be for next year, but it's never too early to start planning)

This vanilla will last for years. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it, just remember to give it a good shake.

Simple Vanilla Sugar

This is a lovely simple gift. You can make vanilla sugar by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar of white, granulated sugar. This is a great way to infuse the sugar with vanilla flavor for baking, adding to tea or coffee or finishing off any dessert. Jennifer Balin of Sugar & Olives in Norwalk always presents her sugar bowl this way.

Put your ingredients into a pretty jar et voila!