|Okay, so just about every single food blogger under the sun has a post on homemade vanilla extract…..except me. And I’m about to remedy that. So, here it is! I know Dianne from Baking 4 Six has been waiting for this (ha! ha!) However, I just want to let you know that this whole endeavor about drove me CRAZY! Seriously. There are about 40 hundred thousand opinions on how to do it. So, I did it one way…..and then the next day, I did it over. About a week after that, I did something else different. And about 40 hundred thousand times, I changed it again. So, if you want to go crazy and have your own vanilla extract, this is the place for you! And if you do go crazy, at least there is liquor right there for the taking.|
|I’m a little weird about the liquor store. I only go when I’m out of town. When we’re on vacation Barry always says “Do you want to go to the liquor store?” Yes please. I don’t want the whole town talking – did you see Stacy coming out of that liquor store? Looked like she had about 6 bottles of the hard stuff. Yipes! But to make your own vanilla, you need vodka. So, don’t be a pansy like me and just go buy a bottle. You also need vanilla beans.You can get them online if you can’t find them in the store. Check at Amish stores too.
I purchase my beans from Amazon. I buy 1 pound of Madagascar Vanilla Beans.
How many you need depends on how much you’re going to make. I used 4. Initially I used 1. This whole process is a little weird in my head.One thing I read said: “Place one vanilla bean into a pint of vodka. Shake daily for two weeks.” So, I did….a pint is two cups.But I wasn’t happy because I read this: “Scrape the seeds from three vanilla beans and place them into a bottle of dark rum. Place the pods in the rum as well. Let sit for three weeks, shaking occasionally.” What? How much rum? AHHHHH! Can you give me some specifics here people?!
Well, then I read this: “Place 1/2 cup vodka or white tequila into small saucepan, and heat until it smokes but isn’t boiling. Break 2 vanilla beans into pieces and place into bottle or jar. Pour the alcohol into the bottle and cover tightly. Let sit for a week, shaking frequently.” WHAT? Break into pieces? But I split mine open…..and heating it until it smokes but isn’t boiling? Smoking liquor?! This doesn’t seem good to me. Burning down a house comes to mind.
|I finally figured out that it was okay to slit it open or to cut the beans into pieces. I wish I had just cut them into pieces…….but slitting them open was kinda fun. So, you do that okay? Slit them open. Don’t cut them all the way through, just slice them down the length and then pry them open a bit.|
|Grab a glass jar and sock your beans down in there. Most people say that you need about 4 beans to every 1 cup of vodka. You can use as many as 8 in every cup…..but who really has that type of cash? Vanilla beans aren’t cheap. I used 4 beans in 1 ½ cups of vodka and it seemed to work just fine.|
|Put your glass jar somewhere where it’s cool and dark…..but you need to shake it every few days or so, so make sure it’s somewhere that you’ll remember to do so. This jar of peanut butter no longer resides at our house. I started this in March and it had hydrogenated oil in it – it left the premises.|
|Most people say vanilla needs 6 months to be great. Mine has finally hit that mark. After 1 month it looks like this. And it smells like……vanilla liquor. Surprised? Make sure you keep the beans submerged.|
|After 6 months, it looks like this…..nice and dark. I won’t look back – no more imitation (after mine is gone of course). If you buy REAL vanilla, this method is a lot cheaper. Most people buy their beans off Amazon for a great price. Of course you know where you can find the liquor. Plus, this makes a great gift! Just make sure you tell them it’s vanilla……and not a liquor drink. That would be a fun Christmas party wouldn’t it?!|
|When it’s done, you can use it straight from that bottle or pour it into something pretty. I strained my mixture to get the beans and big chunks out. This was what I put mine in after 2 months…..and then I let it brew some more because I was going crazy with this whole process. Good night. Should it really be this difficult for me to settle on something? I got some vanilla on my hands today and licked it off. Yummy! As you’re using it, you can add more vodka and beans if you wish…..and continue to let it brew. I probably won’t do that. I’ll most likely just start a new batch. Some people say you can reuse your beans to make more, but the brew takes a LOT longer than the first time around.|
|If you want to use your vanilla beans for something else when you’re done, you can make vanilla sugar. (We don’t use sugar though, so I haven’t tried this.) Cover the leftover beans with sugar and let them sit for a few weeks. Shake occasionally.Oh, and you can use rum if you’d rather not use vodka.|
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Okay, so now that I’ve thoroughly confused myself I’ve finally decided on my method for the future. The above method is great if you have 6 months to wait. But if you only have 2-14 weeks, you can try this method:
-Heat the vodka just until warm (don’t boil) and use one bean for every ounce of vodka. Snip the beans into long pieces.
-Pour into canning jars. Cap. Shake occasionally.
-Let sit for 2-14 weeks.
The added heat helps the process go faster. And I probably won’t strain it either because I like vanilla bean flecks. (method from Cooks Illustrated)
UPDATED: My preferred method now is to cut the vanilla beans into 1/2 inch pieces and just drop them down in the vodka. I use about 1/4 pound of beans to 1 quart of liquor. Vodka is my preference. This tastes best after sitting for 6 months. I shake 1 time per day for 1 month and then let it sit.