This recipe was taken from my new Cookbook, Comforting Eats, due out tomorrow, November 12th (eBook) and spiral version will be ready mid December! For more details and a chance to win 1 out of 5 eBooks, check out THIS blog post!
The gift that keeps on giving, Homemade Vanilla Extract! A few months ago I FINALLY made my own vanilla extract, and I am kicking myself why I haven’t made sooner! A friend had given me 3 bottles of vanilla extracts, each using vanilla beans from different regions. She presented it in a beautiful box, with each bottle clearly labeled with the type of vanilla bean used as well as a printed insert with more information about the region of origin for each type of bean. It was wonderful!! Unfortunately, as much as I use vanilla, it didn’t last long so it was time to start making it myself!
Read your labels when purchasing Vanilla Extract
Please, whatever you do, DO NOT purchase imitation vanilla extract…PLEASE!! There is no telling how many chemicals were used to create the vanilla “flavor” and your baked goods will not taste as good, guaranteed! Also, be very leery of the $10 bottles of “Mexican Vanilla” that someone brings back from their cruise. It’s probably not even vanilla!
Some of the vanilla extracts in the store also contain corn syrup! What!?!? READ the labels! I used to buy the 16 oz McCormick Vanilla Extract which didn’t contain the corn syrup but there smaller bottles did. Makes no sense to me other than it is best to make your own and it’s so EASY! If you must buy some, THIS kind is best, but I admit, it is VERY expensive!
A little Vodka never hurt
As most of you may know, I am not a drinker, but when it comes to cooking and baking, I LOVE to use different alcohols to flavor dishes…. like gluten-free beer in my Adobo Chicken or red wine in my Pot Roast. Also, white wine in my cream sauce for my Shrimp Alfredo and of course, Marsala wine in my Tirimisu. Well here is another use of alcohol other than drinking.
Vodka is vehicle of choice when making homemade extracts. Something that is 80 proof, you DEFINITELY don’t have to worry about anything growing in bottle. Vodka has the least amount of “flavor” so it is pretty neutral once the vanilla beans have been infused into it. You can also use bourbon if you don’t mind the flavor.
The Perfect Vodka
Honestly, you can use any vodka but many will tell you, the higher quality, the better your vanilla extract will be. If you can find it, search out an organic and gluten-free brand (click HERE for gluten-free brands).
The Perfect Bean
You also want to seek out organic beans. These can be found online. Here are some on Amazon. The beans I used came from a local co-op so I got them for a pretty good price.
Here are some other options for beans:
Note: Calculations are based on there being 25 beans per 1/4 lb but there are usually more beans (depending on plumpness) so the price per bean is actually cheaper than listed.
The Perfect Jars
I have experimented with different size and types of jars and I actually prefer the pint size jars for making or “brewing” the extract. This give me room to actually remove some of the beans to “transplant” to bottles that I will give as gifts. When giving as gifts these smaller bottles work well and be sure to put some of the cut vanilla beans in the recipients jar so that they can continue to create more extract.
The bottle of vanilla extract that I received as a gift. I LOVE the personalized labels!
EASY & FUN
As you can see, making homemade vanilla extract is super easy and everyone will LOVE to receive small bottles of extracts as gifts.
Double Strength Vanilla Extract
Makes 2 cups
30 fresh (preferably organic) vanilla beans
2 cups vodka (preferably organic)
Using kitchen scissors, split the beans lengthwise and then in half. Place beans inside clean pint jar. Pour vodka over beans. Be sure the beans are completely submerged under vodka. Place lid on jar and store in pantry. agitate the bottles once a week. Extract will be ready to use in about 6 weeks the longer it sits, the stronger the extract becomes.
As extract is used, replace with more vodka.
*Use this extract spoon for spoon in recipes calling for vanilla extract.
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