Homemade Vanilla Extract
This is one of those recipes that once you try it, you will forever make it yourself. Pure Vanilla Extract is expensive! Making it at home is not…and you will love the fresh flavors.
I use a ton of vanilla at home. Baking is an almost daily past time around here and with two girls learning to cook and bake; we have treats several times a week. And around the holidays…forget it. We can’t keep Vanilla in the house!
Making it is so super simple. There are two ingredients…THAT’S IT!
Blue Ice Vodka – American Potato Vodka (any vodka will work – plain, cheap 750ml)
** I used this particular vodka because I husband heard about it on one of his talk radio shows and purchased the bottle. After placing it in the pantry, it was totally forgotten. Fast forward to me preparing to make vanilla extract and husband remembers the bottle and asks if I wanted to try making the extract with the “Potato Vodka” and the rest is history.
Large glass jar with lid (we used a pickle jar)
Wash Jar (Should we really have to tell someone this part?)
Prepare Vanilla Beans by slicing each bean in half lengthwise, leaving the end attached (I can’t think of a reason cutting them completely in half would matter except for ease in handling – and that was how I was taught to use the beans in other recipes – oh we are creatures of habit!)
Place beans in the jar and add the vodka
Seal jar tightly and place in a cool place – shake jar every few days
If you are like us, we have to open the jar and smell the brewing batch when we shake it. Be forewarned… LET IT BREATHE for a second before you place your face over the top of the jar! Whew!!!!!
Over a few weeks, the smell and taste of the alcohol will fade leaving the beautiful vanilla extract behind. Pure extract will always have a slight scent of alcohol, just as the purchased bottles do, however, when ready to use – it should smell like vanilla extract not like a cocktail drink. You will easily be able to determine when it is ready by the sniff test that you will be doing every couple of weeks.
That is it! Simple huh?
The flavor will be developed enough to use in about three months. I prefer leaving it in the larger jar for at least five months before dividing it into smaller containers to use and give as gifts. The flavor to me is just so rich and deep by leaving it the extra time.
When you deem the vanilla is ready…
- Pour the vanilla into a pitcher
- Strain through cheese cloth IF you don’t like the little vanilla bean seeds in yours (try leaving them…they are wonderful and they add a special homemade look to baking)
- Divide the vanilla extract into smaller bottles (I put vanilla beans and some of the seeds into each bottle before pouring in the extract. It lets the flavors continue to develop and adds something to the appearance of the gift)
- Label bottles and enjoy!
You can discard the remaining beans or place them on a cookie sheet in a warm oven (150-200) until dry – not crispy! Place a couple of beans in a bottle with plain sugar to create your own vanilla-sugar! Use it as usual for a little extra something! I use vanilla-sugar in my coffee. Well, it is really vanilla-splenda but it works and tastes great!
Depending on how fast you use the extract, you can start another batch right away.
If you are looking to make a smaller batch of extract, the rule of thumb is 5 vanilla beans placed in one cup of vodka. The brewing time is the same.
Do you like vanilla-scented items? Have you ever made your own vanilla extract or used any flavored ones?