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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Homeade Vanilla Extract

I always make my own vanilla, it's much more cost effective than buying those little bottles. With all the baking I do, I go through about a liter a year. It was time for me to make some more, so I thought I'd tell you about this simple process.

All you need are 2-3 vanilla beans and some vodka.  Just slit the beans down the center, and plunk them in your bottle. Don't cut all the way through, and don't scrape out the seeds, just cut a slit down one side. This allows all the magic inside the bean to get out and do it's thing. So once your beans are slit and in the bottle, you need to forget about it for a while. Store the bottle in a cool, dark place (like a pantry) for at least 8 weeks, giving it a shake once or twice. After 8 weeks (mark it on your calendar so you don't forget), your vanilla is ready to use! It should be a nice dark amber tone and smell heavenly. Please resist drinking it... your baked goods will thank you.

I chose this vodka simply because I liked the bottle. That's a good reason, right? This brand came in various infusions, so I thought I'd try the vanilla, maybe it'll give it a stronger flavor. I'll let you know how it compares. I like the simple look, so a little careful peeling and the label came right off.

My vanilla beans are from Penzey's, they're a great quality for the price.

 Once you make your own vanilla, it's hard to go back to store-bought. Commercial vanilla usually has some additives, including a syrup added to the extract to give it a sweet aftertaste (this is unnecessary when you're using it for baking).  Even if you don't bake as much as I do, this vanilla extract lasts for years, the flavor will only continue to strengthen.


The Ruse said...

So, the vodka goes in at the beginning, right? How much would you say is needed?

Erin said...

Yes, I put my vanilla beans directly into the bottle of vodka. For a 1 liter bottle, I use 3 beans. If you were using a smaller amount, like 2 cups, you could use only 1 bean.

Lib said...

totally doing this! bought the same awesome 360° bottle too but in a smaller size. Thanks for inspiring me to finally do this!

Erin said...

Yay! Annie found the bottle first, then I totally copied her. Isn't it so pretty? I must warn you, it's kind of a power trip to make your own vanilla.

Jill Edwards said...

Question: after the 8 weeks have passed, do you remove the beans or leave them in?

Erin said...

I always leave them in, this way the vanilla will just get stronger. I suppose you could remove them though, it's not like the vanilla will revert without the beans. After I've finished a bottle, I use the old beans for a recipe, and get new ones for the next batch of vanilla.

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