Thursday, May 10, 2012

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract - It's Easy And It Makes A Great Gift!

Make your own vanilla extract with a pod and some vodka!

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Vanilla Beans
If you're like me, you probably go out and buy vanilla extract. I never even thought about making it myself. I must admit, I've always been a little intimidated by vanilla beans because I had no idea what to do with them. Then one day I read a column by Martha Stewart talking about how easy it was to make your own vanilla extract. Just split a bean, soak it in vodka, and voilĂ  - vanilla extract. I thought, I can do that! 

Where to Buy?
I was so excited about doing this, I ran out and picked up the first vanilla bean I could find. It was a single bean wrapped in plastic and stuffed into this tiny spice box. I don't remember what it cost, but I do remember being a bit surprised at how expensive it was. 
The second time I made it, I was determined to find nicer beans. I found OlilveNation, an on-line website that sold vanilla beans in bulk. I bought 16 beans for $14.95, less than $1 per bean. It was a great deal except I don't know what I'm going to do with all of them. Spoiler alert: guess what everyone's getting for Christmas! By the way, OliveNation also sells 7 beans for $9.99.

Most of the world's vanilla is the variety "V. planifolia".
It's commonly known as Bourbon or Madagascar vanilla.

How to Make Vanilla Extract
You'll need a small glass vessel with a tight-fitting lid and 1 vanilla bean per 1/2 cup of vodka.

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp paring knife.
Loosen the seeds with the tip of the knife.
Measure out 1/2 cup of vodka. No need to break out the good stuff. Save the Kettle One for your martinis and cosmos.
Place bean and vodka in a small jar with a lid.
Soak for 1 to 2 months.
This picture was taken after 3 days.
Swirl gently once and awhile.
After 6 to 8 weeks, the vanilla is ready to use.
Remove the vanilla bean and refrigerate.
It's good for a year!

What a Great Gift Idea!
You can either make up a big batch of vanilla extract and put it in a cute jar for a gift. Or give someone a cute jar with the vodka and vanilla beans already starting to soak, with some instructions (when to remove the pod, etc.) and let them watch it diffuse into vanilla extract. I think that might be more fun. 

Give a beautiful glass container with beans, vodka and some instructions.


Unknown said...

I never thought about making my own vanilla extract but after reading your article I made my first batch. Turned out very nice. I use Infinity Jars for storing the vanilla extract as they keep it fresh for a long time. Thanks.

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Yes, Infinity jars are great. I also use Miron jars when I want to extend the shelf life of my salves or extracts. Glad your vanilla extract came out nice.