Vanilla has become very expensive in the past few years due to vanilla beans being difficult to grow. This flowering plant is incredibly labor intensive. Climate change plays a huge role in these crops being wiped out, while the demand for vanilla hasn’t changed. Vanilla is one of those foods that you should not cheap out on when buying ingredients. Using pure extracts or pastes really makes a difference when cooking and baking, and making your own vanilla extract will take your baking to the next level.
There are over 150 different types of vanilla in the world, all having their own unique flavors and characteristics. The most prevalent types found in most stores are Madagascar vanilla and Tahitian vanilla. My personal favorite is Madagascar. It comes down to preference and what vanilla you like.
Making your own vanilla extract is, in my opinion, superior. You can choose the type of beans, the alcohol you use and how long you steep it for. You are in control of the quality. This is a very simple and easy-to-make recipe and it only requires two ingredients. It will last for months so you’ll be able to save quite a lot of money. Besides, it’s so flavorful and delicious, especially if you use good quality vanilla beans. In an airtight glass container, stored in a cool dark place your vanilla extract will stay good for years. Another plus to making homemade vanilla extract is there is no waste. When your extract is done steeping, you can reuse the pods and make more vanilla. It's a win win.
As the holidays are approaching, homemade vanilla extract makes the perfect gift. I like to start a batch in the summer so it is ready for the holiday season to give to my loved ones. Let me tell you, they love it!
Pure vanilla extract must be made and flavored by real vanilla beans, with no artificial ingredients. It must also not include any additives outside of a small list of sweeteners like sugar, but I like mine as pure as it can get: alcohol, water and vanilla beans. You should be looking for at least 75-80 proof alcohols for your extract making to ensure you are getting the best results.
You will need some patience when making your own extracts as it won't be ready to use right away, It needs to sit for a minimum of three months. The longer it sits the more intense the flavor will be. I recommend letting it sit for six to twelve months.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive time: 6-12 months
Yield: 8 oz bottle
6-8 vanilla beans
1 cup alcohol (75-80 proof alcohol: you can use vodka, bourbon or rum. To get the purest vanilla flavor, it's best to use clear alcohol such as vodka.)
Glass jars or bottles with an airtight seal
- Split vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape the beans.
- Put the scraped vanilla beans and the seeds from the pods in a glass bottle or jar and cover with alcohol, making sure they are completely submerged.
- Close the bottle or jar and store in a dark, cool place. Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. The vanilla extract will last indefinitely at room temperature.
If you enjoy learning about baking ingredients and want to expand your knowledge on good quality products, check out any of our upcoming pastry classes:
- Cupcake Boot Camp Saturday, October 29 10am
- Pie and Tart Boot Camp Saturday, November 5 10am
- Virtual Holiday Desserts Workshop Sunday, November 20 11am CST
- Donut Boot Camp Saturday, November 26 10am