Thursday, December 16, 2010
Homemade Vanilla Extract
I saw this post last year on Design Mom's blog and thought, "What a great gift idea." But, you really have to plan ahead so it didn't happen last year. I put a reminder on my calender for August to start working on it for this Christmas and my timing paid off. I researched several sites online about making homemade vanilla and took advice from several different sites. The best tips came from the Instructables site. I bought all of my supplies in August. I bought my vanilla beans off eBay. They had better prices than many of the vanilla sites I looked at and even Amazon. Madagasgar, Grade B seemed to be the fav among extract makers as their moisture content is low thus giving a stronger flavor. I bought 8 ounce amber bottles from www.sks-bottle.com and I bought Smirnoff vodka at Sam's club.
Ingredients: vanilla beans, vodka...so simple!
Slice your beans lengthwise then scrape out the pulp with a dull knife.
You can just add the pulp but I decided to chop up the remains of the beans and throw them in as well.
I mixed them up in quart sized jars as everything I read noted that "brewing" smaller batches yielded more flavorful results. It would make more sense just to dump the beans into the vodka bottle but I didn't want to take any chances. I saw many, many different "recipes" for vanilla to vodka ratios. I used about 18 beans per quart jar and that worked for me.
After a good shake. I shook them every day for two weeks then I tapered it off to about once a week and then about once every two weeks. They need to be stored in a cool, dark place and my basement was perfect for that.
Three months later. I read that you can let it brew anywhere from six weeks on but these sat for fifteen.
I strained mine before I poured it into the bottles. You can leave the pieces but it's a little nicer to have a "clean" product when giving it as a gift. For myself, I'd just leave the bits in there to continue extracting the flavor. Don't forget to sterilize your jars or bottles before you fill them!
I designed labels on the computer then had them printed on label paper so I could cut them the size I wanted.
The final product. I'll definitely be doing this again. It's so much less stressful than baking for a week since most of the work is done early and I like to give something a little more original. And it's much yummier than store bought extract!
I gave them out to my neighbors, a few friends and my family. The out-of-town family and friends missed out since they're fragile, liquid and flammable. The USPS wouldn't be too happy with me trying to mail these.