Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vanilla Extract

The first time I went to get vanilla from the supermarket, I had a hard time finding it because I was looking for a little brown bottle. I did not find a little brown bottle. I didn't even find a little clear bottle with brown vanilla-ey colored liquid. I found this:


It was CLEAR IMPOSTER VANILLA! Now, to be honest, I'm not so much of a snob that I won't use imitation vanilla. The problem was, the imposter vanilla wasn't even trying to be vanilla-like in any way! Clear wannabe vanilla... pfft!

I decided to take matters into my own hands and manufacture my very own REAL vanilla extract.

I purchased the "extract grade" (B grade) Bourbon vanilla beans from The Organic Vanilla Bean Company's eBay store. They ship worldwide and seemed to have the most reasonable prices (including their shipping prices) of any other bean sellers I could find. They ALSO were the only company that actually had the B grade beans in stock when I was looking for them.

Next, you're going to need to make a trip to the liquor store and pick up a bottle of cheap vodka (geez, I feel like such a lush saying that, and I don't even drink!). I went and pretended I knew what I was doing and just grabbed the first bottle that I saw with a sale tag. It was a very technical method *ahem*.

You'll also want to aquire some dark colored glass bottles to brew your vanilla in. I got ahold of some Grolsh beer bottles because they had the nifty swingtop cork thingies and were easy to open but sealed tight when they were closed.

Other than that, you'll need a sharp knife, a funnel, and a free couple of hours.

*** How to Make Vanilla Extract ***

Gather up your supplies. You'll need the following:

Vanilla How-to 1

Vanilla Beans (8 beans per cup of vodka)
Dark colored bottle with a tight fitting cap
A sharp knife and cutting board


Step One: Cut your vanilla beans in half. Unless you have a heck of a lot of vodka and a really tall skinny bottle, they're not going to be entirely submurged if you don't! You'll cutthem in half again in step four, but it's easier to scrape out the bean guts on the slightly longer pieces.

Step Two: Cut the beans in half legnthwise. I find that if you start on the cut end that it's easier than trying to get the knife through the (sometimes) tougher end.

Step Three: Scoop out the beans innards. From what I understand, this step helps make a stronger vanilla. You can skip it, but your vanilla won't be as potent.

Step Four: Cut the beans in half once more. You can skip this step, but if the pieces are shorter, you can be sure that the entire thing is covered with the alcohol.

Step Five: Load up the bottle with your pieces of vanilla bean and the bean guts that you scooped out in step three.

Step Six: Add the vodka to the bottle. Make sure to use a funnel, trust me on this one! Cap the bottles.

Next, you need to shake them up. Dance around the house if you wish, I won't tell! Shake the vanilla everyday for the first week and then once or twice a week thereafter. You'll have a weak extract after about 6 weeks, but the longer you leave it to "brew" the better! The previous batch I made sat for about 6 months and it's really very good.

Shake, shake, shake!

After your vanilla has been brewing for as long as you can stand to brew it (I recommend 6 months), you can strain it through a piece of fine cheesecloth and put it into smaller bottles. This is another step you can skip out on, but if you're giving it as a gift (which I think you SHOULD because it's awesome) then I recommend doing it.

Please please let me know if you have any questions! Sometimes when I'm writing instructions I read over it about seventy-thousand times and STILL miss when something comes across as a little bit unclear.


Since I've not had a lot of time at the computer, I'm reposting this as my "v" for Mrs Matlock's AlphabeThursday! It was originally posted on June 7, 2009.

Jenny Matlock


Sharinskishe said...

I have always wanted to make my own vanilla. I also would love to grow my own beans. But that will never happen! Thanks for the great tutorial, it sounds pretty straight forward.

I love your haircut! So nice for summer and you look wonderful too.


Keetha Broyles said...

What a cool idea!!!

Sometimes the clear impostor stuff is good to keep white icing white - - - -

PrairieCottageRose said...

Thank you for leaving me a comment! Your vanilla sounds fabulous and I can't wait to try it:)

Noodle said...

I hear you on the real Vanilla thing... I even hate the tame stuff in the gorcery store... My grandma got my family hooked on mexican Vanilla... I guess it's the strengh of that vodka and how long it brews... I feel funny when ever I go to the liqure store for my dad... Last time I went for him I was like 8 months preg... I got some funny looks =)

Spotted Sparrow said...

I had no idea you could make vanilla extract! We always stock up when we're in the US. Thanks so much for sharing this.

A Touch of Dutch said...

A really cool idea, with cool step-by-step photos to boot! Thanks for sharing about this :-)

Sonya said...

The vanilla here is a joke isnt it. I bake with it but it still doesnt give me the flavor I had hoped for. I have also been looking into making my own and since you have, I think I will follow you!

Becky said...

Awesome! Gotta give that a try!

Erika said...

Love the picture of you holding the 2 bottles with a big grin! :0)

That's a neat idea I have seen it before we use alot of vanilla.


Jnette said...

I was thinking at first... well you should have asked someone to ship you some McCormick Vanilla.... but now... hmmm... your idea looks like ALOT of fun :) AND what an excellent gift idea!
I found a vender who sells all different sized bottles and lids. I haven't purchased anything from them, so I'm unsure of their service.

Anonymous said...

That picture worries me. In a mub-the-torturer kind of way...

Wizardress said...

It sounds really good. I bought some fantastic Madagascar Vanilla from Williams-Sonoma when I was home for the holidays, and it really makes a difference in baking- I have always used McCormicks until then, but this DOES make a difference. I am tempted to try this myself. I'm off to visit this site to check out these beans.


Jamie said...

I started making my own vanilla because McCormicks puts corn syrup in theirs :( -- but what fun it turned out to be! A coffee filter also works really well to catch those tiny vanilla bean guts (I love your terminology!)

And speaking of funny looks in the liquor store...just try taking four kids ages 7 and under in with you! You'll get some REALLY interesting looks! Not that I'll admit to doing that, or anything...

Karen said...

You've *almost* got me convinced to try it. I was given some "Mexican" vanilla by a friend but it isn't the same as I've had in the past. Hmmm...this might do the trick.


Anonymous said...

How awesome, I never thought to make my own!!

The Animator's Wife said...

Wow, gonna make this! Thanks!

Jane said...

I bet that is delicious!

Cheryl said...

We don't use enough to make our own. We're able to find the pure vanilla extract most places we go. I do like the idea of giving home-made extract to friends who love to cook.

mrs. c said...

I just got my order of madagascra vanilla beans and I just need to go get my vodka! Thanks for giving me such good directions!

Jo said...

well now i have an excuse to run out for some vodka! your recipe sounds wonderful!

Viki said...

I bet this would be wonderful and it couldn't get any fresher than making your own. Great V post.

cjschlottman said...

Vanilla is one of life's great pleasures. I'm going to try your recipe to put in my pound cakes!

jeff campbell said...

This is a very cool post...we love the idea here of the real deal when it comes to Vanilla...Thanks...Peace and blessings

Catherine said...

This is on my to do list!
A friend brought me two bottles of vanilla from Mexico ... one is completely clear, which I'm almost positive is some imitation vanilla something or other, the other I'm not sure about ... but I'll be making my own soon anyway :) . Love that shake, shake, shake photo!
Catherine :)

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Wow! That is awesome! Thanks for sharing this! I never would have even thought to look up how to make vanilla extract!
love how you had to get the vodka (I dont drink either, so picking by price would be how Iwould do it too) and love your instructions...especially the part about dancing around haha...that sounds like that could be vodka-influenced.

Blessings & Aloha!
(trying to get to more "V" posts. My blog reading time is so limited!)

Jenny said...

Kim, your smiling face really made stopping her this week feel extra special.

Thank you for greeting us with your lovely picture and sharing this fun recipe.

I love vanilla made with rum, too! And sometime try making a spiced vanilla with whole cinammon sticks and star anise. Really differet and yummy.

I love stopping here each week, Kim! You always make me smile!


Candi said...

Were you able to get a great price for all the vanilla beans? Those can be pricey here in the states.

Amy said...

My sister made homemade vanilla and it was incredible. I bet yours is going to be amazing. So fun that you make things like that all the time. :)

Marianne@Songbird said...

Oh that is so wonderful. I have so many recipes calling for vanilla extract and I just knew the dr. Oetker stuff was not going to cut it. I am going to make this. Thank you added it to my inspiration file for future reference.

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