I bake A LOT, just about every weekend. So, I go through a lot of vanilla extract. I kept buying those cute little two ounce bottles of it every month or so. It was really quite expensive. I wondered if I could make my own cheaper and better.
Vanilla extract, real vanilla extract, is just vanilla beans extracted into alcohol. That’s it! Vanilla beans + alcohol + time= vanilla extract. So easy! The neat part is you can vary the taste depending on what alcohol you use. I use bourbon. I think it gives it a really rich warm flavor. You could use rum for a more exotic flavor. Use vodka if you want a more exact, straight vanilla flavor. Use brandy for a … if you like brandy…
The other great part is you can make a HUGE amount of it with a relatively small investment. Currently, I have a 750 ml bottle steeping. I spent less than $35 on the bourbon and vanilla beans. That’s going to make over 25 ounces of vanilla extract or the equivalent of 12 and a half of those little bottles! That has to be savings of well over $25.
A word on vanilla beans: they should be soft, bendable and very fragrant. If they are hard and dry, you probably are not going to get much out of them.
Fresh vanilla beans bend
The first time you try it, I would suggest starting with a half-pint of liquor. There is some debate over how many vanilla beans you need but really it depends on your own taste. I think a really easy place to start is half a bean per ounce. So, that is four beans for a half-pint. (Make it five if you want it extra vanilla-ey!)
Split the vanilla beans length-wise.
Split beans length-wise. All the little seeds will be revealed.
Put them in the bottle.
Shake the bottle.
Wait for at least a month before using. Two is better. Give the bottle a shake every once in a while.
Once the extraction process is complete, then you can strain out the beans if you like. I just leave them in there and let them keep steeping.
It’s a good idea to re-label your bottle, lest it end up on your bar cart. (Although, that would probably make for some delish cocktails!) Also, you can put the date that you created it on or the date it’ll be ready. By the way, vanilla extract never expires.
Do you make your own vanilla extract already? Would you give DIY vanilla extract a try? Leave me a reply and let me know.
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