Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vanilla Extract Tutorial

A few weeks ago, I was shopping for vanilla beans--ten dollars for three itty beans. My youngest son is a biochemist, and he assurred me that we could make our own extract. We just needed beans and vodka. How simple is that?
I shopped for jars and Madagascar beans onlined; the local liquor store had good-quality vodka on sale. For under three dollars, I made my own extract.

First, make sure you sterilize your equipment, even the kitchen shears. Make sure your cutting boards are super-clean. I've been told that it's okay to run your equipment through the dishwasher, but this goes against my training as a registered nurse and as a "canner." Just saying--never take chances when it comes to making your own extract.

Cut each bean in half, leaving them attached at one end. Use a paring knife to scrape/mash the beans.

Place beans in jars and add vodka--leave 1" headspace.

Seal the jars, shake, and place in a cool, dark place.
Shake every day.

In about 3 months, I will strain the vanilla, and add a fresh bean. But now, I can't resist opening the cap and smelling the vanilla.

How to Make Vanilla Extract

What You Need:
glass jars
vanilla beans
kitchen scissors
paring knife
1. Sterilize jars, scissors, knife, and funnel.
2. Using scissors, split beans, leaving them attached at one end.
3. Scrape and mash the pods/seeds with a paring knife to release the heart of the vanilla flavor).
4. Place 3 or 4 split beans (and seeds!) in each sterilized bottle.
5. Pour vodka into each bottle--use a funnel--and leave 1" headspace.
6. Seal jars and place in a dark, cool, sunless spot for at least a month. Shake daily.
7. After 2 months, strain jars (again, sterilize the equipment) and refill with strained liquid. Add fresh, split vanilla beans.
8. As you use the extract, add more vodka. Always shake before using.
Note: I used clear glass bottles (Bormioli), but dark brown is traditional (and will prevent light from reaching the vanilla beans).

Show and Tell Friday.

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  1. Super love this post !! Am so doing this !! I just loved the bottles - where did u get it ??? Love the label - absolutely classy . I wish I cld get one of these bottles right now :(

  2. Super love this post !! Am so doing this !! I just loved the bottles - where did u get it ??? Love the label - absolutely classy . I wish I cld get one of these bottles right now :(

  3. Fabulous. You always come up with the most clever ideas, plus you make them look so professional. Great job. This I've got to try.

    Love the jars too. They make it even more special.

  4. Oh how CLEVER!!!!!

    Love this post - thank you so much!

  5. I like your fancy bottles, I just use the vodka bottle! I have been making my own vanilla extract for years, nothing like it. The best price on vanilla beans is on eBay...Madagascar or Tahitian.

  6. What a wonderful idea. I love your bottles and the adorable labels! There couldn't be anything more simple!

  7. Great tutorial. I have both ingredients on hand and will probably make this tomorrow.

  8. Thanks for the tutorial - love the bottle, labels and tags.. I have an elderly neighbor that makes her own - she does a lot of baking and said it is much better.
    Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

  9. I have been making my own vanilla for years. I have made it with vodka, dark rum and cognac. I have found that I prefer cognac. I normally use a large bottle and when it gets lower just add more cognac and vanilla beans and it makes for a wonderful hostess gift which I do often. BTW, those vanilla beans steeped in the alcohol are wonderful to place in a jar for vanilla sugar. My last post talked about the homemade vanilla as well.

    Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

  10. I found a bottle with beans in it at TJMaxx. Just add the vodka. That was several years ago and the vanilla extract is still going strong.

  11. I make mine too. Only I put it in old Grolsch beer bottles, with masking tape for a label. Not nearly as pretty as yours!

  12. How fun that you made your own vanilla! The bottles you chose are beautiful with the pretty and I bet it smells heavenly!
    Miss Bloomers

  13. I like your bottles!

    I've been doing this for over 30 years (more like 35) (I don't have as neat bottles as you do, however!) -- I use one bean for 6 ounces and prefer rum (white rum) for I think it adds a more rounded flavor to the vanilla than vodka.

    Once you have homemade vanilla, there is no going back -- NOTHING on the market compares to the homemade stuff!

    You've done a great tutorial!

  14. World Market carries vanilla beans, too, and they're less expensive if you have one in your area.

  15. I love this idea. I've been frustrated with the quality of cheap vanilla extract, and the price of quality vanilla extract. This looks like a good way to get the best of both.

  16. Enjoying your blog so much! Aside from all your other make vanilla bean extract, too?!!!

  17. I never thought about making vanilla ext. before! The bottles are beautiful. This is a fun hostess gift. (I always overflow the tsp. when making anything requiring vanilla - love the flavor).

  18. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I am definitely going to make my own...LOVE IT!

    Jane (artfully graced)

  19. I am definitely going to try this,and have some similar bottles that I have been wondering just what to do with. Your labels and the raffia ties make this all the more special. What do you do with the removed seeds?

  20. Wouldn't it make a lovely gift! I am going to make this for sure. Thanks!

    Mary L

  21. I must do this. I am learning so much from these blogs. And they will save money in the long run.

  22. I love your snazzy labels! My best friend made me a gift basket for my birthday, and included 8 lovely vanilla beans from the Co-Op ;o)

  23. I will have to try this. Love the labels and the bottles!