At my baking class on Monday night (and thanks so much to everyone who supported it in any way, either by being there or spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter) we talked about making your own vanilla extract and I realised I hadn’t shared this with you on the blog.
As you can imagine, since I am a cake baker, vanilla extract is one of the most used ingredients in my kitchen, which was not good given how fiendishly expensive it is.
After doing some research online, I tried making it last summer, and I am utterly delighted with the results. Like so many other homemade foodstuffs, there’s no turning back when you’ve tasted homemade. And this is so, so EASY.
All you need is a smallish bottle (depending on how much extract you want to make), some unflavoured vodka or white rum and some vanilla pods.
I buy my vanilla pods in bulk via Amazon, so much cheaper than the single pods in glass jars you find in supermarkets. As for alcohol, if you want a pure vanilla flavour use unflavoured vodka. I however prefer to use a white rum such as Bacardi. The rum has a flavour that goes very well with vanilla, and adds an additional something, something to cakes and desserts. But which alcohol you choose is up to you.
Then all you need to do is fill your bottle with alcohol, score a few vanilla pods lengthwise so the seeds are showing (don’t scrape them out) and then add them to rum or vodka. How many you add is up to you and will depend on how the big the bottle is, how strong you want the extract to be and how many you can afford to use. I currently have around six in my biggish bottle, but experiment with what seems right for you.
Here’s my bottle posing out in the sunshine last summer, just after I’d made it.
Then leave the bottle in a cool, dry place (mine is in the fridge door) somewhere where’ll you see it often. Then, every so often, pick up the bottle and give it a shake. After several weeks the clear alcohol will darken to brown and will be ready to use. Thereafter just keep the bottle topped up with additional alcohol and vanilla pods as necessarily and depending on how strong you want your extract to be.
If you want to get going on your Christmas gifts now (hahahahahahahahaha!:-Ed) then homemade vanilla extract is a very quick, easy and thoughtful gift for the baker in your life if you put it in a fancy bottle.