The first thing was to go online and order Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans (much better quality and way lower expense than buying at the grocery store!) Then I went to work, if you can call it that. This is just too quick, easy and straight forward for a lot of preamble.
So, let’s get started!
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Yield: approximately 1 quart (950 ml)
This is what you’ll need:
12 to 15 Madagascar vanilla beans
1 1-quart, wide mouth mason jar with lid, both sanitized
Vodka (a smooth choice like Kettle One tastes best in the end)
This is how you pull it together:
Place the vanilla beans in the mason jar, standing up. Some people like to slit the beans lengthwise before putting them in the jar. I find it’s good cut or uncut. Cut might take a smidge less time to come to flavor, but you get to use the beans as convenient tubes later if you don’t cut them at the start.
Cover completely with vodka. Being completely immersed in vodka will keep the beans from spoiling or drying out.
Close the lid.
Shake it up.
Mark with the maturity date (1 to 2 months from when you jarred it).
Put in a dark, cool place like your pantry or cupboard.
Now for the hard part. The Waiting… Let sit, shaking periodically, until the extract is dark and has good flavor. This takes approximately one to two months.
And you’re done!
I also keep a jar of Vanilla Extract made with a good bourbon using the same method. It has a stronger flavor and deeper color. I like it for baking, but for cooking and in our coffee, I personally prefer the cleaner flavor of the vodka-based extract.
This makes a lot of extract and costs waaaay less per unit than buying it. And it tastes better.
Once your homemade vanilla extract has finished steeping, you can use it directly from the mason jar. I find this to be a little clumsy and impractical.
I use a silicone funnel to pour some Homemade Vanilla Extract into a de-stickered and sanitized beer bottle topped with a reusable bottle cap. Dark glass is best for extract, and the size is more manageable. Then refill the mason jar back to the top with vodka, cover and let it continue to steep until needed. Sometimes, I’ll add 2 to 3 new beans, but it’s not necessary for the first couple of refills.
Use your fabulously full-flavored, homemade vanilla extract as you normally would for cooking, baking and in your morning coffee. Give as gifts! Remember to plan ahead since this is not a process that’s friendly for last-minute gift ideas.
For even yummier flavor, you can also use the soaked, whole vanilla beans for cooking and baking. Just snip off the end of one of the vodka-soaked beans and gently squeeze out the seeds and paste.
What could be easier!?!