Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How To Make Vanilla Extract

Been down the baking/spice aisle lately? Seen those prices?

(Know how deadly heart disease is? I believe sticker shock has contributed to more cases of heart disease than we realize. Someone should look into that.)

But back to the baking/spice aisle. Did you know you can make your own vanilla extract at home for... considerably less than you pay for those tiny bottles in the store?

You can. Here's how.

First, know this: vanilla extract is essentially vanilla macerated in alcohol. That's fancy talk for "you float vanilla beans in vodka, let it sit, and call it vanilla extract". And that's what you do. Take alcohol (vodka or rum, usually), add vanilla beans, let it age in a cool, dark place, and you're set.

Yes, it may seem like you're ending up with a lot of vanilla. So bottle some up in little bottles and give it away for Christmas. Or better yet, bake tons of goodies with it and give those away for Christmas.

Just think of the lives you may save and friends you may make.

How To Make Vanilla Extract

3 cups alcohol (vodka or rum)
6-8 vanilla beans (depending on size)
Jars or bottles with tight-fitting caps or lids

1. Sterilize jars, if using. Or use the bottle the alcohol comes in, as I did here.

2. With a sharp knife, beginning about an inch from the top, split the vanilla beans lengthwise in half.

3. With clean hands, stuff vanilla beans in jar or bottle, taking care to cover the beans completely with alcohol.

4. Give the jar a good shaking, then place in a cabinet in the coolest part of your kitchen.

5. Let the vanilla beans do their thing for about 6 weeks. Shake your jars or bottle every week or two. Vanilla will be ready to use in 6-8 weeks. Yay you!

Now some facts: Assuming you use sterilized jars and fresh beans and store your stash in a cool, dark place, your vanilla extract should be good indefinitely. Do not try to can this, as alcohol is extremely flammable. When you start running low, simply add more beans and alcohol to your bottle and keep going. If you can taste the alcohol after 6-8 weeks, allow your jar to cure a few weeks longer... the alcohol taste will evaporate. And no, you can't use water in place of vodka or rum; alcohol acts as a preservative and takes care of any contamination worries.

Happy holiday baking! -Brin

15 comments:

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I have got to try this. The vanilla I used to get for about $7.00 was on SALE today for over $9.00!

I saw on Fox Business recently that both sugar and coffee prices are spiking. I think I'll stock up during the Holiday sales.

Cathy said...

Brin, I make my own vanilla extract and I do give it as gifts. Better than what you buy. I buy my beans from Amazon. You can make lemon extract the same way. Peel three lemons (remove the pith) place in a quart jar and add vodka. Delicious!

Alena said...

That's awesome, thank you so much for sharing! :) I tried homemade vanilla extract from Mexico once, and I have been dying to make my own ever since! Boy, will my husband be surprised when I come home one day with a bottle of vodka! :P

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Sounds lovely!!! Homemade vanilla--I can just smell it! Makes me wonder how different it would taste using vodka or rum. Rum definitely has a sweeter flavor and ahem, I do like it occasionally around Christmas--like in spiking the eggnog! Perhaps I should make two bottles, one using vodka and one using a light rum. Then I could compare!

Lady Farmer said...

Wouldn't these make great gifts for Christmas! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

FlowerLady said...

Thanks for the recipe.

FlowerLady

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

I make this every fall and it lasts me all year! It's my secret to all my baking! :) Have you seen the price of coffee! :(

Sixteen Chickens said...

I've done this for years. I like to make mine using a spiced rum. It makes the best caramel popcorn (need the recipe?) I've ever tasted.

Kristie @ Comfy Cozy said...

I've always wondered if it turned out okay. Glad to know you've had good resutls. Think I'll give it a try.

horse loving lineman's wife said...

Thank you so much for the home-made vanilla extract receipe...I did have sticker shock in the grocery store the other day in regards to the price of vanilla extract. I will def. be making this. Thanks. Kimberly

Elenka said...

Who knew??

commoncents said...

Very Nice!

I'm glad I found your blog!!

Steve
Common Cents
http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

Glennah said...

I just found this blog for the first time and I am loving it, feeling right at home here!

My brother made Madagascan vanilla extract for the 'sisters' using a premium vodka. Kind of a wondrous food/vanilla snob, he is! It's long been used and we keep asking for more but I think he has moved on to other things...like roasting amazing coffee. So thanks for the instructions! I'll take the vanilla torch from here!

Coffee Bean said...

Thanks! I'm going to try this!

Vee said...

I have a bottle brewing right now and you've made me curious if it's ready. I haven't shaken it much since I tucked it in the back cupboard. You're so right about prices—everything is up and out of sight. I was grateful to get butter on sale for 40 cents more a pound than I got it last holiday season on sale. Love reading what your commenters have to say...never knew that I could make lemon extract, too. Great!