Make your own vanilla extract

I think my most frequently purchased baking supply, besides flour and sugar, is vanilla.  It is insanely expensive, and I always feel resentful picking up a decent bottle that costs more than 10 dollars, knowing that it won’t last for very long.  As a side note, it makes me even more enraged to know that the most expensive bottle is the best deal, even though it climbs up into the higher double digits.  Despite knowing this intellectually, I can rarely get myself to invest in that much vanilla at one time.  For some reason, I have a mental block against buying things at the grocery store that cost more than 10 dollars and only make exceptions once in a while.

It has never really occurred to me to make my own.

Jessie at The Hungry Mouse has a great picture tutorial showing how to make vanilla extract with a few vanilla beans and some vodka.

The Boston Vanilla Bean company, based here in MA, has their recipe posted online with a link to their extract-grade beans available for purchase.  So far, they seem to be a quite reasonably priced place to buy vanilla beans online.  An even better deal than the go-to Penzey’s, for example.

Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini has her own take on this as well.

The bottom line: Place 2 or 3 vanilla beans into about a cup of vodka (or rum). It seems people all do it a bit differently.  Chop the beans, split the beans, or just put them in whole – there are all of these variations out there and it seems you can’t go wrong.  Either way, place it all in an airtight container and let it sit for 8 weeks or so, shaking the jar once a week.  Voila!  Vanilla extract!

When you’re about 1/3rd through the bottle, refill to the top with vodka.  Add more vanilla beans from time to time to keep the formula going.

I will do the vodka version, since it seems to be the purer version.  I can’t wait to try it!

Have you ever made your own?  Any experiences to impart to a newbie?

Posted by robyn on November 21st, 2009 under cooking, crafts

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I'm Robyn. Thanks for stopping by! This is my craft blog.

Contact me at robyn [at] dognamedbanjo [dot] com.

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