I cook and bake….. a lot. I mean, A LOT! I don’t have to of course, I know how to order take out. I just like to. I really like knowing who made my food, when and with what ingredients. It’s not that I am terribly picky about my food, nor paranoid for that matter, but when I know I can make something better, I want to. I consider myself a Modern Homemaker. This means, I enjoy many modern conveniences, but I also like to roll “old school.” In a time, when the art of being good at taking care of your family, with the traditional value of “hearth and home” is fading away, I consider myself, “a keeper of the flame”.
Homemade Vanilla Extract only requires 2 ingredients and time!
Doing something like making Homemade Vanilla Extract sounds absolutely foreign to most people. Some even ask me why I would want to, when I could so easily go to the grocery store and just buy it. Then they ask me again, “why”? Then, they pause for a minute and think about it and the “why” becomes, “you can really do that?” It’s not that I am trying to make some sort of statement by intentionally walking upstream, I just do!
The funny thing is, many of the old fashioned methods for cooking, baking and preserving are actually simple processes, they just take some time. Nowadays, that seems to be the one thing everyone claims they don’t have enough of. I beg to differ. I too, work full-time, have a house, pets, family, a garden, oh and a blog to take care of. So, instead of saying you don’t have any free time to do this sort of “old-fashioned” thing, put down your phone for 10 minutes. You now have enough time to make Homemade Vanilla Extract! 10 minutes people!! It will need to sit in a darkened area for several months afterward, but this is a hands-off period and requires nothing from you, but patience.
Homemade Vanilla Extract is a perfect homespun gift, that others will enjoy for many, many months.
I like that making Homemade Vanilla Extract serves several purposes. I make some for my family to use when we bake and at the same time, I am making gifts I can give to others. So, this is a multitasking sort of endeavor AND when you are getting low on vanilla, you just go to your pantry and refill your bottle from the bigger container. The same beans, in the same jar, will last you for years, even DECADES, if you refill the Vodka when it gets low! That’s it!
I have said making Homemade Vanilla Extract is a very easy endeavor and it is! Even someone who has never stepped foot in the kitchen, can make this without any errors. You will need to acquire a good quality batch of vanilla beans. I typically buy whole, Madagascar Vanilla Beans, Grade A. If you buy vanilla beans at the grocery store, they usually come 2-4 beans in a package and can easily be double or even triple the price as buying them online. I have researched a few different companies and found buying from Amazon is the best value for me. I get 10 beans for around 27.00.
When you are buying whole vanilla beans, they need to be soft. This means, you should be able to bend them without them cracking. They should be moist to touch and smell of vanilla. When I buy vanilla beans, I often buy extra and vacuum seal them, so they stay fresh until I am ready to make another family favorite, Classic Creme Brulee . Lastly, you will also need a good quality Vodka.
To make Homemade Vanilla Extract, you will want to start with a good sized, clean, glass jar. I use a 1-2 liter glass food storage jars with a hinged lid. You can also use a large mason jar with a flat lid and ring to hold it in place. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to be glass and airtight. You will add 8-10 vanilla beans to the large jar. You then fill that jar to the top with your Vodka, close the lid and DONE! You did it! Now, you place that jar in the back of cupboard or pantry in a dark area. Let this sit for 4-6 months. I take mine out about once a month and give it a light shake and place it back into the back of the cupboard to continue doing its thing.
When I reach the 4 month mark, I taste it to determine the strength. It should be fine to use by then. If I am keeping the jar of vanilla for myself, I just put it back in the pantry and leave it there until I need to refill one of the smaller bottles I keep in the kitchen cupboard. If I am going to be giving some away, I decant this (meaning to pour portions of this liquid into another container) into smaller clear glass jars with a wire swing cap. You can also decant this into small mason jars and cover the lid with a pretty square of seasonal fabric. I also place an extra 2-4 vanilla beans into each smaller bottle. This keeps the vanilla nice and strong and allows the recipient of your gift to then make their own Homemade Vanilla Extract by refilling the bottle you gave them, with their own Vodka.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- Glass Jar with airtight lid
- 1 1-2 liter glass jar with lid
- 10 fresh vanilla beans
- 1-2 liters Vodka
- In a clean, glass jar, place 10 vanilla beans.
- Fill the jar, (over the top of the vanilla beans) with Vodka.
- Put lid on extract and place the jar into a darkened cupboard for 4-6 months.
- After 4 months, you can decant your vanilla into a smaller jar or jars to give away and begin to use it yourself. When the vodka gets down to about the halfway mark in your big jar, fill it with Vodka again, and you will have more extract infusing. Repeat this process and you will never run out!!
Making Homemade Vanilla Extract is a simple process, it just takes some time to infuse. It is worth the effort because it becomes a sustainable pantry item of wonderful quality. It is a delicious extract to use for daily baking, but is also a wonderful and cool looking gift, that becomes a fantastic addition to any kitchen. Plan ahead if you want to give it away as a gift. Place a nice label on it and maybe a string attached with a decorative card instructing the recipient on how to make more. This is truly the gift that keeps on giving!! Enjoy friends!
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