Monday, October 13, 2008

Homemade Vanilla Extract

My friends were enthralled by the fact that I actually used REAL vanilla beans in desserts. But when I told them I had come the conclusion that it was time for me to make my own (yes, homemade) vanilla extract, they thought I was absolutely, positively straight jacket material. I tell you, I am not crazy, but merely passionate about vanilla…especially homemade vanilla extract.

Won’t you tag along on my ‘crazy’ vanilla journey?

The thing is, I have never actually ‘tried’ making my own vanilla extract, I have only heard from my fellow foodie friends on the blogs I read. I originally got the idea from Clara over at . I figured if another home cook could do it, I could do it…and plus, she ‘said’ it was AH-MAZING! I have seen her work, so I trust her opinion.

So here I am, months after reading her post, still contemplating how I wanted to go about this task of making it, and finding the right bottle to keep it in. After doing a bit of research, I settled on a green colored glass wine bottle left over from dinner. [Hey, I'm into recycling these days, re-using is even better. ] To spare you the trouble of research…I’m going to share all my findings with you! If you can be patient (which I am not), it takes about 5-6 months to ‘brew’. After that…you are in for some O’ so fantastic rewards….

Here is what you need:

*1 Cup GOOD Vodka (75-80 proof, triple distilled) I used Kettle One.
*1 oz. (~ 8 beans)Grade B Madagascar Vanilla Beans
Dark Colored, glass bottle, sterilized
Tight fitting Cork, topper, cap, sterilized

This is all you need

Weigh out the beans

*These are ratios, so you can double it if you want to (I tripled it). You are waiting this long, you might as well! And the taste only gets better in time (like fine wine) so feel free to make more because you may have this for 10 years! Grade A vanilla beans aren’t necessary, besides, Grade B vanilla beans contain less water, and this is what you want for an extract anyway. I purchased my beans on eBay. I got about 40 beans for $15. Not bad, considering the gourmet market around the corner sells a measly 2 beans for $11, CHA - CHING! In this day and age of an economic crunch…I have to be smart.


OK, don’t be scared, you need to sterilize the bottle for 30 Minutes. Why? Well, I won’t get into a whole microbial story for you (to my fellow biology freaks like me) but think about it…this stuff is going to be sitting, in a dark, cool place for 6 months. Alright, the vodka would probably kill all those little microbes, but if there is any scent or gunk at the bottom, the vanilla will take on that flavor. Do me a favor, if you are going through the trouble of making vanilla yourself, clean the bottle! So boil a pot of water, pop the bottle and cap in, boil away for 30 minutes, and pull it out with some tongs to dry.

Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. The inside is sometimes referred to as the caviar of the vanilla. I did this while my bottle was sterilizing.

Scraping out the meat/caviar of the vanilla bean

Cutting the bean skins to 1 inch

Putting the bean pieces in the bottle

The caviar of the the vanilla bean

Adding the caviar to the bottle

Measure out appropriate ratio of vodka to the amount of vanilla beans. You want to make sure the vanilla beans are covered by the vodka. What I did was cut the beans into 1 inch pieces. You will get a more intense flavor if you cut the beans into pieces.
Put Vodka and the beans and the caviar (seeds of the vanilla beans) in the bottle, and cork it!
Adding the vodka

Screwing on the cap

Wait 5-6 Months. Some say you can use it after 4 weeks, but the best extraction of the vanilla is at 6 months.

What you will want to do is shake it on a daily basis for the first week or so.

Shakin' the bottle

Then at least a few times a week for week 2-4. You may be able to use the vanilla now.
You should try to save this for a few months, in the meantime, shake the bottle once in awhile.
At six months the beans have reached their max extraction and they can be removed through a strainer. You can add more beans to the vanilla at this point if you want. We will go over the extraction in 6 months!


Rebekah said...

TOTALLY impressive!

Kelly Joy said...

I am so pumped for your blog! Great ideas, instructions and pix! Looking forward to learning and cooking "with" you!

Love kell

Sweet as Coco said...

Thanks! Trust me..the words of encouragement mean more to me today than you know. :)

CB said...

Awesome instructions! Love that you put it in a purdy green wine bottle. Mine is kinda ghetto in a sterilized (No germies for me!) glass jar. My favorite picture is the one of you shaking the bottle. I am an OCD shaker. Every time I walk passed my pantry I shake. HAHA. PS. Thanks for the linkage :)

Sweet as Coco said...

Ha, thanks. I started out with a really pretty blue bottle but instructions I read said "green" or "brown" glass to eliminate light. So - I used the green. And there is NOTHING ghetto about homemade vanilla girl so Im sure the flavor makes up for it! :) I really need to get OCD aboout shakin my bottle!! thanks for the idea of doing this myself! I can't wait to try it!!!