2-ingredient homemade vanilla extract

Vanilla extract is an essential element in baking. Open a bottle of vanilla extract (pure, not the imitation stuff), take a sniff and hmm… it’s like drinkable perfume! It smells so warm and inviting, and enhances the flavors in your baked goods. What an amazing ingredient!

Pure vanilla extract is expensive, because vanilla bean is the world’s 2nd most expensive spice (after saffron)! Don’t let their dry wrinkly exterior fool you, they are extremely moist and luxurious inside.

I went to many grocery stores to compare the prices of vanilla beans. So far I have found the vanilla beans at Sprouts Farmers Market are the most affordable while still maintaining good quality. It was a little bit cheaper a year or so ago, but it currently costs $9.99 for a bottle of 2 beans.

If you bake a lot, it’s definitely more economical to make your own vanilla extract. It’s also easy and fun to do. You can even use different alcohol to create different flavored vanilla extract. Last time I used rum instead of vodka, and oh my, it smells like a fine bottle of aged dark rum!

TWO ingredients are all you need to make your own pure vanilla extract:

Vanilla beans + Alcohol

After putting the split vanilla beans in a glass bottle, fill it with alcohol. Leave it in a dark place, and give it a shake every few days. Just let time do its magic, and the vanilla beans will marry with the alcohol beautifully!

The longer you let it sit, the deeper the flavor will be.

If you like your vanilla extract without seeds, you can strain the beans and seeds out. I like to leave them in the bottle so the flavor will intensify over time. And when I need some vanilla beans to make ice cream or other desserts, I can just get a vanilla bean from the bottle and scrap the flavorful seeds off. Also, if you leave the vanilla beans in the bottle, you can continue to add alcohol to the bottle to keep your vanilla extract going for a long time!


Recipe

Homemade vanilla extract

Ingredients

  1. 4 vanilla beans
    • Use more if you like a stronger vanilla flavor, but it will get very expensive fast!
  2. 8-oz alcohol
    • Vodka, rum, or other 80-proof alcohol.
      • It’s not necessary to use expensive alcohol, but don’t use something you wouldn’t drink (at least with a mixer).

Instructions

  1. Split each vanilla bean in half.
    • Leaving one end attached (this will make it easier to pick out later when you want to use it).
  2. Push the vanilla beans in a glass jar with a sealing top.
  3. Pour 8-oz. alcohol in the glass jar.
  4. Tightly close the top of the glass jar and shake it.
  5. Store it in a dark place and shake it every few days.
  6. Wait at least 6 weeks (the longer the better).
    • Be patient, you will be rewarded with an aromatic homemade vanilla extract!

Variations:

You can use the same method to make other extracts! I have made lemon and orange extract. Just peel the skin (not the pith–the white lining) of a lemon or an orange, put them in a jar and then add alcohol. Don’t forget the most important thing–patience! Wait at least 6 weeks before using. These kinds of extracts add an extra layer of flavor when you are making fruity baked goods like lemon pound cake or blueberry muffins. You can even add a few drops to your whipped cream!

Enjoy!



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