Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract

Years ago, I read a tip in Cook’s Illustrated magazine about making vanilla extract, and thought I’d give it a try. It was easy enough to make, tasted good, and it lasted forever. Last year I found another tip about making it, on ZoeBakes.com. Then, after receiving dozens of vanilla beans as a gift, I made some more. I borrowed techniques from both methods to create my own, which I’m sharing here.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ingredients:
One bottle vodka, any size (or rum or other neutral flavored alcohol)
Several vanilla beans (the more you use, the better the flavor: use at least one bean per ¾ C vodka, and up to 18 beans for a 750 mL bottle)

Method:
Pour all the vodka into a saucepan. Set aside.

Split vanilla beans lengthwise and, using the back of a knife, scrape out the pulp and the seeds. Place all the seeds and pulp in the empty vodka bottle, along with the scraped-out bean pods.

Slowly heat the saucepan of vodka over medium heat. Be very careful: the fumes can catch fire, so make sure there isn’t anything flammable nearby. When hot, pour the vodka through a funnel back into the bottle. Close the bottle and shake it well.

Shake the bottle every day or so for the next week. The extract will be darker after the first week, but won’t be ready to use for at least two weeks. For the best flavor, wait a good month. The extract should keep indefinitely.

Tip: any time you use vanilla beans for anything else, save the pods and add them to the bottle of extract.

Step by Step Details

Get a whole bunch of vanilla beans. I get mine at Penzey’s, except for these, which were a gift from my brother. Yes, my brother is awesome!

Vanilla extract 002

Pour all the vodka into a medium or large saucepan. Set aside.

Vanilla extract 001

Split vanilla beans lengthwise. Be careful not to cut all the way through it: you don’t want to cut it all the way in half, just through the first layer, to open it up. (But if you do go all the way, don’t despair. Both halves can still be scraped and used.)

Vanilla extract 004

Using the back of a knife, scrape out the pulp and all the seeds.

Vanilla extract 007

Make a pile of all the scrapings from all the beans.

Vanilla extract 008

Place the scraped bean pods in the empty vodka bottle, along with all the seeds and pulp.

Vanilla extract 010

Remove the bottle label so you can see better. Some come off more easily that others. I’m nearly there…

Vanilla extract 012

Slowly heat the saucepan of vodka over medium heat. Be very careful: the fumes can catch fire, so make sure there isn’t anything flammable nearby. When hot, pour the vodka through a funnel back into the bottle.

Vanilla extract 013

Close the bottle and shake it well.

Vanilla extract 014

Shake the bottle every day or so for the next week.

Vanilla extract 018

The extract will be darker after the first week (shown below), but won’t be ready to use for at least two weeks.

Vanilla extract - 7 days

For the best flavor, though, wait about a month. It’ll be really dark by then. Here’s my half-used bottle after about eight months. Looks like it’s almost time to start a new bottle!

Vanilla Extract

The extract should keep indefinitely. Enjoy!

Advertisements

One thought on “Homemade Vanilla Extract

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s