Time to Jump On It

I am taking time out this Thanksgiving Day to give you a heads up that the following recipes need to be prepared now in order for them to be ready for Christmas gifts. I received such an overwhelming response on edible gifts from a mason, or canning, jar that I wanted to give you my two favorite mason jar recipes. It saves you money as well as the recipient. I love making these every year and putting a gift tag on them to hand out to family members before they depart for home. As we all know, extracts are expensive and if I could have a large bottle of one at all times, I would be baking nonstop. These two extracts are easy to make, but just take a little time.

Your Own Vanilla Extract
Now ordinarily you would have to make this recipe and let it sit for 6 weeks, but I have successfully made this the following way and it has turned out with the exact same results. I know that vanilla beans are expensive but when you weigh the cost with the amount you would be getting, you are still saving a truckload of money.

Make sure you use a vodka that has no odd smell to it. There are some inexpensive vodkas that don’t have a foul odor and many that do, just ask someone for help if you don’t know. I will tell you that I have always used Fleischmanns’s vodka. Even though I can buy much more expensive vodka, this brand is perfect.

12 vanilla beans
1 qt. vodka
Glass jar with tight-fitting lid

Take a knife or scissors and split each pod down the middle lengthwise.  Scrape out the seeds into a 2 qt. slow cooker, along with the vodka and the pods themselves. Over low heat, let this simmer for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool for 3 hours in refrigerator. Once cooled, pour into a 2 qt. glass container and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Shake and put somewhere with no light for 3 weeks, shaking every couple of days.
After 3 weeks, remove, strain through a cheesecloth into mason jars and decorate as desired. Just remember to give it a good shake before using.

The Yankee Chef’s Almond Extract

12 whole almonds*
1 pint vodka

Place the almonds and vodka in a food processor or blender and puree until the almonds are about the size of large-grained sugar, or coffee grounds. Remove and add to a 2 qt. slow cooker. Over low heat, let this simmer for 4 hours and remove from heat. Pour into a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and let sit in darkness for 3 weeks. Remove, strain through a cheesecloth into mason jars and decorate as desired.


*If you are able to, buy almonds that are in the shell. Crack them open, it’s the Holidays, you must have a nut-cracker on hand somewhere. You are able to use roasted almonds in a jar but be forewarned, much of the natural almond oil(which is where the flavor is) has been removed through cooking, making the flavor far less pronounced.