Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted by Erin
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.
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.