Making your own vanilla extract is WAY easier than you might think. To make your own vanilla extract, all that you need to get started is 1-2 vanilla beans, some vodka, and a jar. If you’ve never used a real vanilla bean, you’re in for a treat – they smell AMAZING! I just couldn’t get enough of that strong vanilla smell the first time I cut into one. All I could think of was Christmas cookies, a warm kitchen, and the smile you get when taking the first bite of a delicious homemade cookie. mmm… I use a pint mason jar to make a large batch of vanilla, then transfer it to a smaller bottle so that it’s easy to pour teaspoons for recipes. Any clean glass jar will work. Right now, I have vanilla in an old, well-cleaned, red wine vinegar bottle for everyday use. Vinegar bottles work really well because of the little plastic stopper in the top that slows down the flow. That is really convenient for me because I’m not all that into measuring and like to splash my vanilla into the bowl with a quick pour motion.
To make your own vanilla extract, you’ll need:
- 1-2 vanilla beans
- 2 cups vodka or enough to fill your container
- a clean, preferably glass jar or bottle
Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise down the middle (on a cutting board), then scrape the seeds out of the middle. Throw all of this into your jar – bean, seeds, and all. Pour in vodka until it fills up the jar. Cover, shake, and put it in a dark place (kitchen cupboard works well). Leave the vanilla for a couple of months to develop the flavor. Then, start using it, just like regular vanilla extract that you would buy from the store. I usually keep a “perking” jar in the cupboard while I have a everyday jar in the old vinegar bottle. This way, I always have a new batch developing. When your jar gets low, you can refill with vodka and let it develop again. You can do this many times before needing to refresh with a new vanilla bean.
I think it would be interesting to experiment with other alcohols for interesting flavors. Vodka is the most neutral so takes on the vanilla flavoring easily. Bourbon vanilla sounds interesting… I’ll let you know how that one comes out when I try it. These also make great gifts if you have any bakers on your Christmas list or would like to give a unique house warming gift.