I make my own vanilla extract. (For some reason, this statement sounds really domestic in my head).
Why would I make my own vanilla extract, when there is a perfectly good product (Neilsen-Massey – the BEST if you’re going to buy) out there? Because I can. It’s easy. It’s affordable. And it’s good for you! You can make your own high-quality extract for a fraction of the cost; without any added sugar (or god forbid, corn syrup!) or other additives.
Does this sound crazy? It’s not. I promise – If you do any baking, I feel that making your own vanilla extract is totally worth it!
You only need a few items to make this, and of course, patience. It takes about 2 months to “brew” and become the proper strength.
Homemade Vanilla Extract:
* Vodka (or alcohol of choice)
* Vanilla beans (3 beans for every cup of liquor used)
* Jar w/lid
* Cutting board and sharp knife (to split the beans)
Split the vanilla beans in half, lengthwise, starting about a quarter-inch from the top. If you cut them all the way in half, don’t fret. I just happen to like to keep them connected at the top.
Place the beans into your jar(s).
Fill with the appropriate amount of liquor. (One cup of liquor for every 3 vanilla beans).
Screw the lid on tight and give the jar a shake.
I find it handy to put a post-it note on top with the starting date, so I can keep track of my various batches.
Now, store it for two months. Come back every week, or every other week to give it a swirl and shake, to keep things trucking along. I keep mine in the pantry, or in the dark corner of my kitchen counter. Don’t go setting it in the fridge or on a windowsill, but aside from that, you can put it pretty much anywhere that is convenient for you.
As for the tools needed… I am partial to Ball jars, but you could use any container (I’d use glass) with a tight-fitting lid.
For beans… I have ordered my vanilla beans from a couple of different sources, and my current fave is Beanilla Trading Company (or Beanilla products on Amazon). The Tahitian beans that I have brewing now are the best that I’ve used thus far. I’m no expert – I just know what I like – so if you have a different preference, by all means, use whatever kind of vanilla beans you like. For that matter, you can (to some degree) use any kind of alcohol that you want…. I happen to use vodka. Medium-low priced vodka. I’ve heard of others using clear or spiced rum, or bourbon even. I am a vodka gal at heart, and I think it gives the cleanest vanilla taste, so vodka it is.
I now have a jar of vanilla “brewing” at all times. Once it’s finished, I pour it into a different bottle or jar, to keep for myself or to give to a friend. Clean your jar, toss your used beans, split open some new ones, and go again. Plan ahead, so you won’t run out!