Friday, January 27, 2012

Vanilla Extract

A couple recipes I posted, and ones that I plan on posting in the future, call for vanilla extract. Ever since I started helping my mom bake, I loved to take deep breaths with my nose over the vanilla bottle. Over the years I became a vanilla connoisseur of sorts, seeking out gourmet bottles. These can be a bit pricey, so I was excited to see an article in Martha Stewart Living about making your own. It never even occurred to me to make home made vanilla extract until then.

This recipe is pure vanilla extract. There are no additives like corn syrup, and it contains REAL vanilla, not the flavor compound (aka chemicals- yuck) vanillin. Making home made extract was so simple, using just two ingredients- vodka and vanilla beans. I hated having to wait two months for it to be ready though, so I make sure I always have an extra bottle stashed in the cabinet.

Vodka is the easy part, it's getting the vanilla pods that was somewhat of a hassle. Whole Foods sells vanilla pods, but just two pods will set you back $15. I'm not a big fan of online shopping, but I took Martha's advice and bought beans from Beanilla. I was pleased to see that they carried bourbon vanilla beans at a very reasonable price. Ten beans are only $8.99, a steal. I bought these, used vodka I had in the pantry (no shocker there), and pretty glass bottles from Michael's craft store.

Home Made Vanilla Extract
Makes 1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup plain vodka
  • 1 vanilla bean
  1. Using a knife with a sharp tip, make a vertical slice down the vanilla bean, exposing the seeds.
  2. Gently scrape the inside of the bean to slightly loosen the seeds.
  3. Put the whole bean in a small glass container, and add the vodka.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place for 6 to 8 weeks.
To the right is a sliced vanilla bean with the seeds exposed. Not the most clear picture, but it gives you an idea of what the cut looks like.

After two months the color will look like this. The beans look cut in half, but thats because I reused them for a second batch by adding another 1/2 cup of vodka once I ran out. I took out the pods and scraped out more seeds for this batch, which was just as flavorful as the first one.

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