Today I’m going to share with you the most simple recipe I may ever share. However, it is also one of the most handy. It also happens to be something I absolutely love making. It’s homemade vanilla extract!
Vanilla is one of those pantry items that a baker never wants to find empty. It’s uses are endless. But it ain’t cheap either. A few years ago, I finally had the epiphany that I really ought to be making my own vanilla extract, and with minimal research, I found out just how easy it really is. And now, when I open a new bottle of vanilla, I’m opening a quart jar instead of a measly one-ounce bottle. Hooray!
This stuff is so beautiful and heavenly smelling that I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about making a cocktail out of it. Now, pretty much everyone makes their vanilla extract with vodka. That’s cool. I totally get that. You might want to as well. It’s clear, it’s relatively tasteless – it makes sense. But, personally, I choose to make mine with a strong bourbon. Why? Because I think it’s flippin’ delicious. That’s all there is to that.
Either way, you’re gonna take a bunch of juicy, beautiful vanilla beans. Consider getting organic ones, because you’re gonna be extracting every little drop of goodness out of these babies. You’re gonna slice them lovingly down the middle, scrape out the beans, and put them in a glass jar. Then you’re gonna drop that bean pod in there, too. Once you’ve scraped all your beans, you will pour a whole bottle of alcohol on top of them. And then label it. And then put it in a dark, cool place. Voila! Now, you play the waiting game.
If you look around, you will find that every recipe out there requires a different number of vanilla beans. Don’t worry, you can’t go wrong. I started with maybe half a dozen and experimented with more every time I made a new batch. They’re all going to be delicious. At this point, I’ve settled on using around 20 beans for a 750ml bottle of alcohol. That’s my preference. I am always stocked heavily with vanilla beans. Use what feels right to you. That’s one reason why it’s important to label your bottle. I like to label mine with the date, the exact type of alcohol I use, and how many vanilla beans I put in. That way, you can taste your final product and adjust as desired. It’s going to be tucked away in a cabinet for a while – you might forget. Trust me.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
750 ml bourbon or vodka (I like Wild Turkey 101 for it’s higher alcohol level)
about 20 vanilla beans
Slice each vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping out all the seeds. Scrape seeds into a clean, quart-sized mason jar. Add the scraped pods in, too. You might want to chop them in half to be certain they will remain fully submerged under the alcohol. Pour alcohol on top. Cap and give a good shake. Label as desired and store in a dark, cool place for at least one month. Extract will taste even better if left for six months. Every once in a while, give the jar a good shake.
You now have your very own homemade vanilla extract!
Note: A plastic lid here is better. The alcohol will eventually rust a metal lid.