Vanilla extract is one of the easiest, most satisfying, and useful things you can make at home. With only two simple ingredients, you can create a jar of fragrant goodness you can use over and over to enhance drinks and desserts with a depth of flavor you’ll never get from imitation or even store bought real vanilla. Best of all, you can control the strength of your vanilla and it’s far cheaper than what the store charges. Here are the down and dirty basics:
What type of vanilla beans? Madagascar or Tahitian are most commonly used for extract making. Choose Grade B, which is specifically for extract. Grade B beans contain less moisture than Grade A, making them perfect for steeping. Bonus, Grade B is less expensive.
Where to buy vanilla beans? Buy bulk beans for the best price! Never buy those small bottles of a few beans at the grocery store. Go online. I’ve purchased beans on both Amazon and eBay at great prices.
What kind of alcohol? A mid grade vodka is perfect. The flavor is all about the beans, so an average vodka is just fine. Be sure it’s at least 80 proof for steeping power. You can use other types of alcohol, such as rum or bourbon, but the clean quality of vodka gives the purest vanilla flavor.
How many beans per cup vodka? Six beans per cup for single fold vanilla. Twelve beans for double fold. Eighteen beans for triple fold. Use as many beans per cup as you can afford. You’ll thank yourself later when you have the most delicious and aromatic vanilla you’ve ever experienced.
What kind of jars should you use for steeping? Glass. You can use decorative jars or plain old mason jars, but whatever you choose, make it glass. Any other material can taint the purity of flavor.
How long should you steep for the best extract? As long as you can stand it! Vanilla extract doesn’t go bad! If you’re impatient, your vanilla extract can be used after 2 to 3 months, at minimum. Six to 12 months is even better.
Vanilla extract makes great gifts. Every year at Christmastime I make a number of jars of extract in different sizes, from 8 ounce to 16 ounce to 32 ounce. This is my annual vanilla supply. I put the jars away to steep for 12 months. For my own use and gifting, I use the jars I made the year before. This guarantees me an ongoing supply of fully steeped vanilla. And the sooner you get started, the sooner you can have it, too!
Makes 16 ouncesPrep Time: 10 minutes |