Making Vanilla Extract
This last year, I read something about making vanilla extract. Since I had converted to pure vanilla extract instead of imitation during my transition to “real ingredients”, I knew how expensive it was. So, making it myself was very appealing. And fortunately, it’s not difficult. It’s not immediate gratification, but I promise it’s worth the wait!
All you need is some vodka, around 40% alcohol. It’s up to you on what kind. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the extract I was buying at the warehouse stores was not made with a premium liquor, so you probably don’t have to get too picky here. I used Tito’s Handmade Vodka because it’s made in the US (Texas), and the founder’s name really is Tito, which makes me smile.
I found several different concentrations of vanilla beans to alcohol, as well as varying time frames of letting it age. I settled on something in the middle and it seems to have turned out very well. I bought these Madagascar Vanilla Beans on Amazon.com.
Even if you don’t want to try making this, I would still recommend switching from imitation vanilla to pure vanilla extract because of the ingredient comparison below:
THE RECIPE: Vanilla Extract
9 vanilla beans, split in half
3 cups vodka, 40% alcohol (I just used a fifth, which is just over 3 cups, 25.6 ounces)
1. Split the vanilla beans in half and place into the bottle of vodka.
2. Shake. Place in a cool, dark place.
3. Shake a couple times a week for the first month, then just weekly until it has completed the extraction process. The shortest time should be about 2 months, but you will have better results if you can wait 3-5 months. Some have even suggested 6 months.
4. Once you have waited as long as you can possibly stand, find the cute bottles you want to package it in and pour it through a strainer to remove the beans. Use it for baking to your heart’s content. :)
Notes: Use the leftover beans and add them to 1-2 cups of sugar. The flavor will absorb and you will have some lovely vanilla sugar for coffee.