For my first post, I’ve decided to share something that showed me how easy it can be to make things yourself. In this day and age, almost everything we could ever want or need is at our fingertips. The grocery store is filled with pre-made items to make our busy lives easier, but they’re also filled with preservatives and chemicals. By putting in a little extra time, I’ve realized that you can make things which you would normally buy in the grocery store without the harsh preservatives. Specifically today, I’m talking about vanilla extract.
There’s all kinds of extracts in stores today: pure vanilla extract, imitation vanilla extract, vanilla flavoring. How do you know what you’re supposed to choose? The imitation extract is so much cheaper than the pure extract, do you pay the higher price for the quality or save money and buy flavor? The easy way out is to make your own. Making vanilla extract is so easy and the part that takes the longest is just waiting for it to mature. The best part? It is only made of two ingredients! No preservatives or imitations necessary.
The two ingredients you’ll need will be vanilla beans and plain vodka. Yes, vanilla beans can be expensive, but you’re making a much larger volume of extract than you’d typically purchase. This way it will last you longer and be of great quality. Once the extract is done sitting, you can even reuse the vanilla beans! They can be used to flavor sugar, make syrup, or to even make more extract. The extract can make a great present for those in your life that love to bake– my mom and I made a large batch last year and gave them out as Christmas presents!
Homemade Vanilla Extract
These measurements can be doubled or split in half, depending on how much you’d like to make. You’ll need:
- 3-4 vanilla beans (these can be found with the spices in the grocery store or at health food markets)
- 1 cup vodka, bourbon, or rum
- A jar with a resealable lid
Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Take a spoon or knife and scrape out the black goop inside of the bean (this is the actual vanilla, pretty cool, right?) and put it into the jar. Repeat with all of the beans. You may cut the beans in half or bend them in half, depending on your jar size. Next, pour the alcohol on top of the beans making sure to cover them. You can push the beans down, or again, cut them to fit the jar. Seal the jar and let the jar sit in a dark cool place for at least 1 month. The longer the extract sits, the more potent it will be! Even after a day or two, the solution will start to turn brown. Its a pretty cool process to watch, before you know it it’ll be dark brown!
The extract can be kept for up to one year. You can keep topping off the jar with alcohol to make more extract, but be sure to let it sit and replace the beans after they start to lose their flavor. Also, the black bean will sit on the bottom of the jar, and don’t be scared to use this! This is the best part of the bean. You can put a little scoop in cookie dough, cake batter, anything you would use vanilla extract in, and it’ll make your masterpiece a little more special and a little more delicious. Different types of alcohol will put a little twist on your homemade vanilla. Make different batches with different kinds and try them all out!