Things you'll need for the extract and sugar:
- Vanilla Beans, 40-50 ct. (more about those later)
- Vodka or Rum. Needs to be 70-80 proof or more.
- Sugar (organic, Turbinado, or plain white granulated sugar will do)
- Pretty jars for the finished project
- Knife, cutting board and food processor
More about the ingredients:
Vanilla Beans: I usually buy my vanilla beans local, but you can order on Ebay, Amazon, etc. To make a whole bottle of vanilla extract (we're talking a 1.75L of alcohol), you're going to want about 20 beans or more. If you're gifting small bottles of extract, you're going to want some extra vanilla beans to put in the individual bottles. You can order those later. The sugar takes about 20 beans as well. To store vanilla beans, wrap them very, very well in plastic to prevent drying. Store in a dark, cool space.
Liquor: I usually use vodka, but my bestie uses dark rum and had great results. Just make sure that you are hitting that 70+ proof goal. I do this with a 1.75L size, but I should have purchased more because it didn't leave any extract for me!
Sugar: Purchase enough sugar to fill your containers. Any kind of granulated sugar will do. Turbinado sugar is especially delicious:) Check your local co-op for specialty sugars.
Jars: I have had great luck at World Market for jars. They seem to have every shape and size that I need and they aren't expensive. I'm sure if you look around at your favorite store.....you can find something that will work. Heck, even canning jars for the sugar would be pretty.
Instructions: Wash your hands and clean your work space.
To package prettily: So, it's been 5 months or more and you're ready to give this gift that is now vanilla extract. Fill your gift bottles and get out your stash vanilla beans. Add one or two (split lengthwise) to the bottle. A pretty ribbon or scrap fabric with a tag will finish it off nicely.
For Sugar: Wash your hands and put your hair back. If you have disposable gloves, wear them...you're giving a gift, not germs. Dump the correct amount of sugar into your food processor (assuming you have one). Get the cutting board and cut the vanilla bean lengthwise, just as you did for the extract. Now, with the flat part of your blade/knife and starting at one end, carefully scrape the inside contents of the vanilla bean and put into the food processor. Make sure to clean out each bean. Discard bean husk or add to the vanilla extract!
After you are done with all beans (15-20 beans), close up the processor and pulse the sugar until all of the vanilla has been distributed evenly and is well incorporated into the sugar. All you have to do now is pour into the jars and finish with a ribbon and tag.
Of course, no teach gift is complete without a heartfelt card from their student. Teachers hold a very special place in my heart. They work so very hard every day to make sure your child succeeds. Here are some other fantastic teacher gift ideas:
- Annuals or small perennials, decorated with a bow. Make sure the plant has growing instructions included.
- Handmade bowl covers and hot pads
- Gift Certificate to a book store or a craft store
- Handmade bird feeder. This would be a great daddy project with help from the student.
- A pretty decorative pillow with ruffles is great for a young teacher. Keep it neutral!
- Zippered, padded iPad cover. I need to get that tutorial up here!
Some of these ideas require sewing skills, but try to keep in mind that any thoughtful gift is more than the teacher is expecting. Even if it is just a card from the student, that is enough. Your time, attention and understanding are the best gifts of all.
Happy end of the school year to all!