I’ve been using a lot of brand new things in the kitchen pretty regularly this month, like freshly roasted pumpkin puree and coconut cream. Last night, I took on two new projects that turned out to be quite simple! Jess and Michele inspired me to make my own vanilla extract, and Steph gave me the idea to make flavored sugar. Both these projects are cutting down on waste by reusing old bottles (and containers) and not buying new ones!
I made a trip to Penzeys yesterday afternoon to get vanilla beans and redeem three free product coupons that were burning a hole in my pocket. The vanilla extract “recipe” called for 6 vanilla beans, so I got those and two (free!) sets of herb and spice blends, as well as another spice blend called Forward!. Penzeys is near Bayshore Mall, which is kind of a long bus trip from my apartment, but there’s so many stores there that I make the trip somewhat frequently. After perusing all the herbs and spices, I walked over to Trader Joes and did my grocery shopping and got more baking goodies.
Since the vanilla extract takes a few months to mature, I got that squared away as soon as I got home. There are two ingredients: vanilla beans and vodka. I just sliced up the beans and stuck them in a bottle. The recipe calls for two cups of vodka and 6 vanilla beans, but as you use the vanilla extract, you can keep replenishing it with more vodka. If you bake often (which I do!) this is far more economical then storebought vanilla. I spent $15 on 6 vanilla beans, plus $5-10 for this amount of vodka, and I’ll get several cups of the stuff. No more wasting money on all those little bottles (and throwing away all the little bottles!), and I hear this vanilla extract is absolutely wonderful.
You can find the full instructions here.
Now waiting for it to mature! The mixture looks ever so slightly darker today, but it has a long way to go. I totally put it in a kombucha bottle. It’s filled to the brim, so I’ll probably transfer it to something else next time I finish up something that’s in a pretty bottle.
Next up was lavender sugar. I had an idea for a dessert to make with the matcha powder sitting in my cupboard that I’m so afraid of that involved lavender. I was going to make it last night, but I guess the lavender sugar understood my fear because it’ll be two weeks before it’s ready to use. My friend Steph made me a set of flavored sugars for my birthday so that gave me the idea to use lavender in sugar form for this dessert I had in mind.
I crushed 2 tablespoons dried lavender buds in 1 cup sugar and voila! Lavender sugar. In no way is waiting 2 weeks going to inhibit me from using matcha powder because MoFo will be over by then, and I bet there are more ways I can play around with it!
Now the waiting game! The beginning of November will be filled with lavender sugar. Then come December/January, the vanilla extract will be in action, so get excited!