Homemade vanilla extract tastes as great as (or may be even better than) the ones you purchase from food stores. Making vanilla extract at home is not exactly rocket science and with a little patience and just the basic ingredients you can create this aromatic flavoring agent. Vanilla extract can be easily made at home and after about two months, you will get your own bottles of this aromatic agent.
You can make this extract using different varieties of vanilla beans that are available in the market. A few of the varieties that you may come across in stores are Madagascar, Mexico, Tahiti and Tonga. So every time you need to bake something and feel the need of using vanilla extract, just open the cupboard and get your bottle. This will save you the trip of going to the store every time your vanilla extract finishes. You can also gift cute bottles of vanilla extract to your friends.
How to Make Vanilla Extract from Scratch
There are just two ingredients required - vanilla beans and alcohol. For the best vanilla extract you can use Bourbon or Tahitian vanilla beans. Choose brandy, rum or vodka to act as a base for the vanilla extract.
- Take 5 or 6 vanilla beans and wash them properly. Make sure that they are stored in a cool place to retain their moisture. Using a knife cut the vanilla beans lengthwise so that they split into two.
- Leave an inch of the bottom so that the vanilla beans remain intact at the end. You can also use scissors to cut the vanilla beans. Now place these split vanilla beans in a glass jar, preferably clear. This will enable you to see how the vanilla extract is getting created.
- Usually vodka is preferred over other alcohols like rum or brandy, because with vodka you get the original taste of vanilla. If you use brandy or rum to concoct vanilla extract, then there may be a variation in the taste. So to get the pristine taste of vanilla, it is advisable to use vodka.
- Take a quart glass jar and pour the vodka into it. Now place the split vanilla beans in the jar and push them into the vodka till they are completely submerged in it. Close the jar with a tight fitting lid and store the jar in a cool, dark place, preferably a cupboard.
- To check if the vanilla extract is developing, taste the mixture after a few days. You may get a slight flavor of the vanilla which indicates that the vanilla extract is in the process of formation. The longer you allow the mixture to sit the more potent the extract will taste. The stipulated time for the vanilla extract to develop completely is approximately 8 weeks.
- After the completion of 8 weeks, remove the jar from the cupboard. You will notice that the liquid has turned amber. Using a funnel transfer the vanilla extract into smaller bottles. Place a vanilla bean in each of the bottles, to keep the flavor potent. To replenish the vanilla extract as you use it, you may add vodka to it. The potency of the vanilla extract may be regained quickly.
- If you require a sweet taste, you can add a teaspoon of sugar to it. A little dark rum will also do the trick of lending a slight sweet taste to the vanilla extract. Your vanilla extract is ready to be a part of cakes, cookies and other baking products.
For a better and stronger flavor, you can make the vanilla beans stand in the vodka for a while longer. Your vanilla extract is now ready to be used in a variety of mouth-watering and flavorful desserts.