All right, everyone. How would you like a non-recipe? This is something that is so embarrassingly easy that it makes me want to jump for joy. But the fruits of your non-labor will be great. This is something you can use again and again throughout the year. Homemade vanilla extract, be still my heart!
Before I started cooking and baking regularly I never really spent much time thinking about the vanilla extract I was using. I didn’t care. I pretty much only used it for oatmeal or French toast. Then the magical transformation occurred and baking became fun to me. Huzzah! That’s when I realized that imitation vanilla just wasn’t cutting it. And I really didn’t like buying those teeny tiny bottles of vanilla either.
Why make your own vanilla extract? It’s easy enough to buy a bottle at the store or get a huge bottle on Amazon. The answer may be that I’m just a little weird. 😉 I like making my own earrings, I’ve made my own scented room spray, I’ve been known to make a huge vat of ketchup now and again, and I like to make my own vanilla. It makes me feel old timey. Just me and Laura Ingalls Wilder running down the rolling hills outside Walnut Grove. 🙂 (By the way, there are no huge hills outside Walnut Grove. I live not very far from there and it’s all as flat as flat can be. And that’s why old episodes of Little House on the Prairie drive me bonkers).
So if you like to put on your mad scientist cap every once in a while, you might like making this too. Plus how cute would it be give a fancy glass jar of homemade vanilla extract to your favorite food lover on his or her birthday?
Another fun aspect of making your own vanilla extract is you get to decide what alcohol to have your vanilla beans swim around in. At first I used vodka because it’s a pretty blank slate and the flavor of whatever kind of vanilla bean you use really shines through. Then I branched out. You can use vodka, rum, or bourbon. My person favorite is bourbon. It really gives recipes a lil something, especially when you use it in chocolate. Let your vanilla beans steep in the alcohol of your choice for a month, then it’s ready to use…BUT if you have the patience to let it steep for six months you will have a really deep, rich vanilla extract. Let the good times roll!
- 1 750 ml bottle of vodka, rum, or bourbon
- 12 vanilla beans
- Pour about a tablespoon of the alcohol into a cup and set aside so the bottle doesn't overflow when you put in the vanilla beans.
- Put the vanilla beans into the bottle of alcohol, then put as much of the reserved alcohol back into the bottle that will fit.
- Let the vanilla beans steep for at least one month, but six months is best.
- Remove the beans and use them in whatever recipe you want.
- Pour the vanilla into any fancy bottle you want, or keep it in the original alcohol bottle.