Saturday, December 20, 2014

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract couldn't be easier!  
All you need are two ingredients...vanilla beans and alcohol.

Pure homemade vanilla extract smells heavenly...
adds intense flavour to baked goods...
and makes a fun little gift from the kitchen.

  • 12 Vanilla Beans 
  • 2 cups vodka 
 Rule of thumb ~ use six beans per 1 cup of alcohol.  (Never less.  More is better!)

  1. Split each bean in half lengthwise using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.  Leave an inch connected at each end of the bean.  (Just because.  For looks!)
  2. Place the beans in a clean jar.  Cover them with vodka to submerge completely.  Place the lid on the jar and give it a little shake.
  3. Put the date on the lid...just so you know how long it has been steeping.
  4. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for several months.  Shake occasionally.The longer you wait, the richer it is.
  5. Strain the infusion through a coffee filter to remove the flecks of seed.  Or, leave them if you prefer.
  6. Decant the extract into pretty bottles for gift-giving...using a funnel.
  7. Add more vodka to the 'spent' vanilla beans in the jar and make more vanilla!  Eventually the beans will need to be replaced...once all the flavour has been extracted.  I left the 'used' beans in the jar and added fresh ones as well.
Vanilla happens to be among the most expensive spices, since growing the seed pods is very labour intensive.  I ordered Madagascar beans on-line.  As for the vodka, I used the least expensive kind I could find.   Vodka is the preferred alcohol since it is virtually flavourless.

And that is the synopsis of my first foray into making vanilla extract.  The vanilla has been packaged and gifted...and the next batch is steeping in a dark corner of my pantry.  I thought I would share my experience with you give you plenty of time to get your vanilla extract production going before next year's gift-giving season is upon us.