Homemade vanilla extract could not be easier; it takes just two ingredients…vanilla beans and alcohol. Now it does take a bit of patience as you wait for the alcohol to extract the flavor from the vanilla beans, but the yummy results are worth it. And don’t worry if your gift is not completely ready when you give it; it adds to the anticipation when the gift-ee has to wait in delicious anticipation before using this precious extract.
I use Bourbon or Madagascar vanilla beans to create a classic, robust flavor. Tahitian beans are subtly fruity and floral, while Mexican vanilla is smooth and spicy. I use Grade B or extract grade vanilla beans because they have a lower moisture content. Vanilla beans can be a bit expensive but I want the best for my gifts so I buy from Mountain Rose Herbs to obtain organic and Fair Trade vanilla beans.
For the alcohol base, vodka has the most neutral flavor, but you can also use bourbon, brandy, or rum to create unique sweet extracts.
I place my vanilla beans and alcohol in a decorative bottle that can seal with a cork for at least one month (a couple of months for a stronger flavor).
Makes 8 ounces
3 to 5 vanilla beans
8 ounces alcohol such as vodka, bourbon, brandy, or rum
Step By Step Instructions:
COOK’S TIP: Use 3-5 vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol and multiply accordingly if making more extract.
Split the vanilla beans: Split each vanilla bean in half lengthwise. If you like, you can leave an inch connected at the end of the bean for an attractive presentation. You can also chop the beans into smaller pieces if necessary to fit in your jar or bottle.
Place the vanilla beans in a clean decorative bottle or jar and cover with alcohol, making sure they are completely submerged. Cover the jar or bottle and give it a good shake.
Infuse for at least one month: Store the jar or bottle of vanilla beans in a cool, dark place shaking it from time to time. Taste the extract and let it infuse longer if you want a stronger flavor.
I like to leave the vanilla pods in the extract for beauty and to keep the infusion flavor strong.