For those who bake a lot you will know where I'm coming from when I say Vanilla extract is a pain in the behind.
First of all vanilla extract is not cheap! :(
Secondly It also runs out pretty quick.
Thirdly most recipes require it... cakes, cookies, morning pastries, and even ice cream.
So why not invest in making and storing your own. It's actually pretty easy, however it does require a bit of time to 'marinate' so to speak, for this reason it's best to make your batches in advance.
Here's how its done...
You will need
- A Glass jar or bottle with a lid to seal. (Be sure to sterilise this with boiling hot water before use).
- Vodka - enough to cover the beans in the bottle you choose. You can also use rum or other neutral flavoured alcohol.
- Vanilla Beans – The amount you use will depend on the size of the jar you make, but you want to use a bunch to get the best flavour. I used about 18 beans in 750ml of vodka. The beans can be expensive, so you can also keep the pods after you have scraped out the seeds for another recipe. This will take longer, because you aren’t adding the flavorful pulp, but it is a great way to use the pods. I add one to the bottle every time I have another pod.
- Clean your bottle and dry it well.
- If you are using the whole vanilla beans, scrape out the pulp of a bunch of beans.
- Put the pod and scraped pulp into the bottle. (Scraping out the pulp first will help it flavour the alcohol quicker.)
- Once you have all the beans scraped and added to the bottle…
- Pour the vodka into the bottle. You can use a Funnel to make sure you don’t spill.
- Close the stopper / lid on the jar/bottle and shake the vanilla and vodka to distribute the seeds.
- The vodka will still be clear for the first few days. Once every couple of days give the extract a good shake to break up the pulp and get the seeds distributed in the vodka.
- After a week the extract will start to get darker and develop some flavor. After two weeks you can use the extract, but the flavor will be very subtle.
- At week 3 the color should be amber and the aroma is richer, but waiting for week 4 or 5 is when it gets really exciting. Use it in any recipe that calls for vanilla extract. If you are using it in buttercream, you may want to strain out any of the pulp. You will still have the seeds in your recipe, but any of the stringy bits from the pod will get strained out.
The extract can be kept indefinitely and over the months it just keeps getting better.