Into The Hamper: Bottomless Vanilla

featuredAs I was watching the dog Daisy plow through the mountain of squeaky stuffed animals in her toy chest, I started to think about the holidays. Yikes. It’s too early. I know. That said…

Daisy’s toy chest is a recycled hamper that was once stuffed with Irish goodies sent to us by Ken’s generous parents.

daisyhamperIt reminds me of All Creatures Great and Small and the decadent hampers Tricky Woo’s owner sent to Mr. Herriot to thank him for tending to her pampered pooch. Anyway, six degrees of separation later I started thinking about foodstuffs I might like to give to friends and family for the holidays. Homemade gifts aren’t for everyone, but for those who are like me I hope this and future posts of the same ilk will be of use.

I think a bottle of homemade vanilla would make an attractive and useful addition to any holiday gift basket. What else might be nestled in there to keep it company? We’ll get to that later…

Vanilla needs to steep for at least a few months to develop the proper flavor, so it’s a get-on-it-now kind of thing. If you’re like me and you recycle pretty bottles, this is a great way to lighten the load. If you want new bottles in interesting shapes and sizes, these guys have a pretty selection.

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Bottomless Vanilla (makes 8 oz. or 240ml)

Why bottomless? Because as the level drops you simply top it off with more liquor, and on, and on…

1-8 oz. (240ml) squeaky clean glass jar or bottle
8 oz. (240ml) of vodka (this is the time to use the cheap stuff)
4 vanilla beans, split with a knife*

Add the beans and booze to the jar, seal and… wait. Rotate the jar periodically. Let everything steep for at least two months.

*Four beans is enough, but the more beans you add the stronger the flavor. Every couple of months I stick a fresh one in the bottle. What type of vanilla bean should you use? I tend to buy Madagascar beans, but if you want a rundown on the different varieties, you can go here. And if you’re lucky enough to have a bulk herb/spice market in your area and can actually stick your nose in the jar and smell the difference between the different beans, do–it’s a heavenly experience.

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