|Can I just write that it's very difficult to take a picture of a shiny bottle! Well at least in an apartment with a point and shoot camera and lots of things to reflect on the glass. :-)|
Pure vanilla extract is an essential ingredient for any baker and purchasing a small bottle of the real thing can be very expensive. It turns out that making your own vanilla extract at home is actually easy and can be more cost affective, especially if you make it in a larger batch.
The first bottle of extract I made was this summer. As I looked into different ways people suggested to make this product, it seems the most common combination was three vanilla beans added to two cups of vodka. I started with this, but after a month of letting the extract age I still had a product that smelled strongly of vodka and only had a hint of vanilla flavor. A bit frustrated that I wasn't getting the results I was wanting and not desiring to throw away what I had started, I decided to add 4-5 more vanilla beans to the mixture. After another month of waiting I had something far closer to a nicely fragrant and well flavored extract that I could actually use for baking.
|Slicing a vanilla bean.|
|Seeds inside a vanilla bean.|
A tinted glass container is wise for protecting your lovely extract from sun exposure. You can buy small bottles for a couple of dollars, re-use old glass vitamin containers or even paint your own glass jar dark and then hand paint a label on it. Get creative and have some fun! I used some glass etching cream from Michaels to etch "Vanilla" on the outside of my glass bottle. The etching cream was about $13 for a smaller bottle, with a coupon I received 40% off (always try and use a coupon at Michaels, you can print them off from online) making my total around $7, not bad and I have other uses for it in the future. I also tried my hand at making a homemade label. Someone who knows calligraphy could have a lot of fun there. No matter how you do it, it comes from the heart and that's all that matters.
|These tiny little vanilla seeds add plenty of extra flavor and fragrance to the extract.|
Makes 2 cups
8 whole vanilla beans (grade B if possible)
~1 cup good quality vodka
Tinted glass container (or paint a glass container to make it dark inside)
Getting Started1. Slice open the vanilla beans length wise and scrape out the vanilla seeds. Put seeds into the glass container along with the rest of the vanilla bean. I prefer to keep my vanilla beans their full length, but they can be cut into smaller pieces too.
2. Fill glass container with vodka, preferably with enough that will allow the bean to be fully submerged.
3. Cap it and allow the mixture to sit for at least 4 weeks. After this time if it still smells strongly like vodka and doesn't have enough flavor allow to sit for another month and then test again.
4. After 6 months the beans and vanilla seeds can be strained out if desired.