Friday, March 11, 2011

How to make vanilla extract

A couple of weeks ago,  we went to visit my sister's family and I came home with a vanilla bean. I had made homemade vanilla extract before in a canning jar but found it really difficult to measure out the finished extract when used for baking. Then, I read instructions on a friend's blog, on how you could just add the vanilla bean to the vodka bottle. So, I decided to give it a try.

The first time I bought some vanilla beans through my local co-op at the time, I didn't know what to expect. To be honest, I thought a vanilla bean looked similar to a coffee bean. I was not expecting it to look like this:

I got this bean from my sister who bought a 3 pack from Penzeys Spice. I believe it was for $7.50 or something like that. It was definitely under $8. Which isn't that bad when you can't get it from a co-op. The first time I bought the beans, I shared a batch with several friends. I think we each got 5-6 beans and they came out to about 50 cents per bean! Quite a savings! So, if you can find it through a co-op, do that. Although, my friend whose blog, I mentioned earlier ordered hers through a guy on ebay. (details on her blog, Making do with the Not So New.

I just didn't want to go through all the trouble ordering off of ebay (which I rarely do) and it seemed a little weird to me anyways. lol

Anyways, all I did was divide the beans into thirds. Instead of getting a giant bottle of alcohol since I only had one bean, I got three miniature bottles of vodka and rum. I wanted to try out the difference between the vodka and the rum. Each bottle was 50 ml:

After I cut the beans into thirds, I cut down the middle of each bean and opened it up and scraped it slightly before dropping it in the bottles. I was worried I hadn't scraped it enough but I found on another link you don't have to even cut them open. You can just drop them in. This way, I have little pieces of vanilla floating around which I won't even bother to strain when I use. I'll just have some extra vanilla flavor. When the vodka runs low, I'll just buy another bottle and pour it in. I think I can get at least two or three times use out of these beans. The bottles by the way were $1.50 each. The smallest size large bottle was 750 ml for $8. I only had $5 with me that day so I opted for the smaller ones. If I had more beans, I would have gone for the larger bottle.

Each day (or at least when I remember to!) I just give the bottles a shake. I have them stored in my pantry in a cool dark place. In a couple of weeks, it will be ready to use. I noticed some recipes for making your own vanilla said you could add a sugar syrup to it but the whole reason I make my own is to avoid the sweeteners found in commercial vanilla.

And that is all there is to it!

Let me know if you make any!

P.S. If you really want to try this recipe and don't want to order any beans and you don't have a co-op near you, I noticed that Walmart sells 2-3 beans for $11 in the spice section. Which I know is very high, but I'd do it in a heartbeat if it came down to that and using the store bought stuff. The taste can't be beat!


I did not care for the vanilla made with the rum at all. The ones made with the vodka turned out awesome! I have since purchased more vodka and refilled the bottle at least once. I love this stuff. One of the ways I've been using it is to put a teaspoon or more in a cup of orange soda. Takes like cream soda and it's so delicious!

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