The last time I went to the grocery story for extracts I was shocked by how expensive they were. It didn’t matter which flavor, pure extracts cost a lot of money. But what can you do? Well, I decided to make my own. There is nothing better than homemade vanilla. The flavor and aroma are rich and smooth–nothing can beat it. The fact that it’s easy to make, is just a bonus. You just need vanilla beans and alcohol–yup, that easy.
I use Grade B Bourbon Planifloria Vanilla Beans. They have a rich, dark fragrance and flavor. There are many other options. Experiment and have fun.
What you need for Vanilla Extract:
8-oz. bottle or jar (I got mine at specialtybottle.com)
6 vanilla beans (I got mine at VanillaProductsUSA.com)
1 cup vodka (or bourbon, rum, or brandy)
- Slice vanilla beans once length-wise and place into clean, dry bottle. You might want to cut the bean into thirds so it’s easier to fit them into the bottle.
- Using a funnel, add the vodka, making sure vanilla beans are completely submerged. Seal the bottle.
- Shake about once or twice a week.
- Have patience. You’ll need to wait about 8 weeks before your vanilla is ready to use, but I guarantee, it’s worth the wait.
Note: As you use your vanilla, just keep adding more vodka. As long as you keep the vanilla beans covered with alcohol they won’t spoil and you can have an endless supply of vanilla extract.
And it’s just as easy to make other flavors–orange, lemon, mint. The fragrance and taste of homemade extracts are clean and fresh without the chemical, artificial flavors you’ll find in grocery store extracts.
Lemon Extract: Orange Extract: Mint Extract:
8-oz. bottle or jar 8-oz. bottle or jar 8-oz. bottle or jar
Zest of one lemon Zest of half an orange 10-12 clean, dry fresh mint leaves
1 cup vodka 1 cup vodka 1 cup vodka
Same as above. One note, however. When making citrus extracts, make sure you don’t get any of the white or pith of the fruit, just the outside peal. The pith is very bitter and will make your extract bitter as well.
These beautiful little bottles make a great gift. Pair them with some pretty kitchen towels or kitchen utensils, put them in a basket and you have a lovely hostess or Christmas gift. Since it takes eight weeks for your extracts to be ready, start now and leave them in a cool, dry place and they’ll be ready for the holidays. Just add a pretty label and you’re good to go.