Thursday, April 12, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I know what you are thinking - is she really making vanilla extract? Does she know she can go to the store and get it for like a whopping $5? Yes, yes, I know. I'm crazy, but you should know this by now. I've been wanting to try this for so long and am now just getting around to it. That seems to be the way most things go around here these days.

You only need two things to make your own vanilla extract - vanilla beans and vodka. That's it. Well, that and patience. You'll have to wait about 6-8 weeks for this to be ready to go. The longer you let it sit, the deeper the flavor you'll get. Several years ago I bought I huge bottle of vodka at Costco and recently found a big mason jar of it hidden underneath everything in my freezer. I guess I should clean out my freezer more often. Who knows what else could be in there! It was perfect timing for me to find it since earlier this week I received an order of vanilla beans in the mail. If you go to your local grocery store you can probably find two dinky beans in jar for about $10. Super expensive, right? They are totally worth it, but I wanted to get more bang for my buck. I love LOVE amazon (you can get great deals on anything!), so I did some research and ordered me some beans - 16 bourbon madagascar vanilla beans for $10. What a deal! I originally ordered these beans to try to replicate Starbucks' petite vanilla scones, but I haven't gotten around to making those just yet. Give me a few weeks. So many recipes to try, so little time. So, my recommendation is that if you want to try to make this extract, make vanilla bean ice cream or need to stock up on vanilla beans, order them online. That's just my two cents though.

Before you go ordering them, here is a little helpful information. Did you know there are several types of vanilla beans? I sure didn't. Maybe I'm just behind the times. Or maybe it's just because I don't use vanilla beans that often.

Madagascar - the strongest, most intense vanilla flavor, with full a body
Bourbon - notes of berry and ripe fruit
Mexican - sweet and smooth, mellow and spicy 
Tahitian - delicate, exotic, floral
Tonga - rich, full flavored
Indonesian - sweet and woody
India - higher percentage of seeds, sweet, woody, spicy

Use what you like or what you can find. It's totally up to you and whatever you decide, it will make your extract unique! 

here are the beans I bought.

split the beans before putting them in the vodka. Look at that vanilla caviar. YUM!

beans + vodka. see you in two months!

Homemade Vanilla Extract  

1 cup vodka
3 vanilla beans, split down the middle

In a mason jar (or any jar you have), place one cup of vodka and three split vanilla beans. Place lid on top and give it a good shake. Store jar in a dark, cool place. Every few days, give the jar a quick shake. In about 6-8 weeks, you will have vanilla extract. 

You can change up the flavors and make this extract special - cloves, cinnamon or even a splash of rum to give it a kick. Even better, this makes a great gift and people will be surprised how easy it was to make and how good it really is!


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