Category Archives: In the Kitchen

DIY Vanilla Extract

DIY Vanilla ExtractThis week, our daily rhythm has been thrown all out of whack. Firstly, Dora has been tired and stressed out from doing vision therapy. I know that she needs it, as surgery is the only other option, but she is really having to work hard at it. Also, her balance bike finally arrived, so she’s wanted to be outside riding it every moment possible. Then, to top it all off, we bought her some of the Lego friends sets and now Dora is a Lego addict! None of our other kids have been interested in Legos, but Dora has been spending hours with them and they are the first toy that Dora will play with happily all by herself. So, though we’ve not been doing any Waldorf, I cannot complain about how we’ve been spending our days.
I also can’t complain about the weather. It’s been so warm that we decided to break out the ice cream maker. While making the ice cream, I suddenly realized that I have never posted about making homemade extract on this blog.
Several years ago, I went to buy some vanilla extract and it cost $15/bottle for non-organic extract! I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it at that price. I figured there had to be a cheaper way to make it myself. So I did some research and learned that it was very easy to make myself. I’ve been making it from scratch ever since. Here’s my “recipe”:
Supplies and Ingredients:

  • A clean amber colored bottle (I buy all my bottles from Specialty Bottle, with whom I have no affiliation)
  • 3-4 vanilla beans (you can use lemon rind instead to make lemon extract, mint leaves to make mint extract, etc.)
  • Vodka (other types of alcohol can be used and will yield different results, but I have found that vodka renders the most traditional taste)

Directions

  1. Slice the vanilla beans open lengthwise and place them in your bottle (you may need to cut them into smaller segments to fit them in your bottle)
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle with vodka
  3. Allow the bottle to sit in a cool, dark place for 3+ months, shaking the bottle up once a week (-ish)
  4. After three months, you can use the bottle of extract just like you would any store-bought extract
  5. I usually remove the beans after six months, if the bottle lasts that long. Some people like to use the soaked beans to make vanilla body scrubs or vanilla sugar with, though I usually dispose of mine.

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Maureen

Labels: In the Kitchen
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Edible Flower Lollipops

Edible Lollipops 4

This project was not one that I had planned for us to do this year, since it entails cooking candy at extremely high temperatures, but Dora started arguing with me that people could not eat flowers and I felt that I just had to show her that some flowers were not only edible, but yummy. We bought our flowers from our local food co-op. They were labeled as edible and were 100% organic. Obviously, one shouldn’t go picking flowers from any old garden and eating them and one should be 100% sure about which flowers are edible before eating them. Ironically, Tertia (age 18) came in while we were making these and started arguing with me about the edibility of flowers also, so clearly this is a gap in my kids’ education that I have failed to address.

Edible Lollipops 3

I used theses directions for making spring flower lollipops. Some notes that we came away with are:

  • The flowers kind of shrivel up when you put them in the candy, so you can use a mold that is smaller than your flowers (Tertia insisted this was a case of cruelty to flowers and it kind of did seem like the flowers were crying out in pain as they were scalded to death with the candy mixture Smile )
  • SprinkleBakes mentions using a candy mold, but I couldn’t find any that were safe for using with hard candy, which gets much hotter than soft candies, so we used the powdered sugar method
  • These lollipops are extremely sweet, so I recommend making them when you know you’ll have a lot of people over. They look lovely, so would add an added extra to your table and people wouldn’t feel the need to eat more than one.
  • Use real white sugar to make these (we used a pseudo-white sugar that we get from the food co-op, because it is fair trade and slightly healthier than regular white sugar – our sugar made the lollipops kind of yellow-tinted, such that they looked a bit jaundiced).

All, in all, this taught Dora (and Tertia!) that some flowers are edible, but I wouldn’t make these again, unless I was doing it for a party. It might have been the cherry candy flavoring that we used, but I just found these to be too cloyingly sweet for our family.

Edible Lollipops 5

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, In the Kitchen, Nature Study, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff