I'm cheating today and repeating a annual post because it's that time, time to make your own vanilla extract for the upcoming baking seasons! So, if your one of my loyal followers, this is just a gentle reminder for you, and for the rest of you, welcome to the "make your own" club, I promise once you make your own vanilla and bake with it, you won't go back to the imitation or store bought stuff!
This is super easy too, so don't stress but do have patience because the longer you allow this to steep, the richer your vanilla will be, that's why I like to start now or earlier so I have it ready, it's my secret ingredient in all my baked goods, but don't tell anyone, pinkie swear!
Homemade Vanilla Extract
There really are no recipes for this, ok, there are if you do a search but once you figure out your favorite ratio it's a piece of cake. The budget comes to mind here too, because your source for the vanilla beans might change your mind, but shop around. I get mine from a local health food store that sells them by the pound, but since I only use 4, it only costs me $3.50. And I know, to some, that is alot for vanilla beans, but believe me when I tell you, it makes a HUGE difference in your baked goods. And if your like me who bakes for other's and gift giving, it all adds into it. And if you price the real vanilla, you will see this way is much cheaper and you'll have a big bottle that usually lasts me till the next fall, depending on how much I bake.
Ok, this part isn't my favorite so I usually have my hubby do it or I'll add to my groceries one week. You will need a big bottle of vodka (750 ml) or brandy, both work well, but I think the vodka is cheaper, here anyways. Now, just slice your beans down the middle length wise and you can either scrap out the seeds or leave them in. I leave them in adding to the flavor and if some gets included in a recipe, they will never know. Just place the split beans into the bottle of vodka or you can put both into a pretty decanter like I do. Then, just shake it up daily for the next 2 months, keep in a dark place while the vanilla beans mix with the vodka to become vanilla extract.
This makes a lovely gift for those bakers on your Christmas list too, wrapped in a pretty bottle or jar with a vintage printed label, tied off in a festive ribbon or bow! This is one of those finer things in life, so spoil your taste buds and make your own in time for the best baking season ever!!