Vanilla extract – that ubiquitous ingredient called for in recipes for cookies, cakes, breads and more. The need to use high quality vanilla extract is stressed upon by many a chef. Given the considerable price difference between a bottle of ‘original’ vanilla extract and supermarket brand bottles, it’s not surprising if you would hesitate to pick up the expensive one. Especially once you know that all it is made of is vanilla pods and alcohol. I have been reading about how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract at home for a while now. It was time to try it out for myself and see if it really was easier than just buying a premium quality bottle of the stuff.
I was not disappointed. Following The Wednesday Chef‘s advice, I ordered a 1/4lb bag of Tahitian vanilla pods from Vanilla Saffron Imports, a San Francisco based company. I tagged on a small amount of saffron to the order while I was at it. My package arrived sooner than I expected along with a free set of measuring spoons and the saffron packaged in a neat little metal box.
The only thing I had to do was to measure out a cup of vodka into a glass bottle with a tight fitting lid and submerge about 4 whole vanilla bean pods along with their beans that I scraped out before adding them to the bottle. I gave it all a shake and let the bottle sit in a cool dark place so the alcohol could do its magic.
The original idea was to take pictures of the bottle at different stages so we could all observe the magical transformation of clear vodka into a dark essence. However, our holiday travel plans hindered this idea. So instead, you can now see what the extract looks like after almost a month of sitting undisturbed. In fact, the contents of the bottle had a dark caramel colour and smelled delicious just within a week.
So, my friends, it is indeed an easy task to make your own vanilla extract in bulk and save yourself quite a few pretty pennies. The best part is that as you keep using it, you can keep filling up the bottle with more alcohol to replenish your supply. So go forth and cook in abandon with your own special brand of vanilla extract!
- 4-5 fresh vanilla pods
- 1 cup vodka
- Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pods.
- Pour the vodka into a glass bottle with a tight cap.
- Add the vanilla pods and the scraped out beans to the bottle.
- Give it a good shake and place in a cool dark place for at least a week before using in place of your usual vanilla extract.