There is something so soothing and delicious about the smell of vanilla and making your own vanilla extract at home gives you a great opportunity to enjoy that smell! Not only that, but it is simple and cost effective and assures that you are getting a high quality delicious extract without unwanted additives such as corn syrup or dyes. It also makes a wonderful gift and looks so pretty on the spice shelf! I have been making my own extract for a long time and did a post on it a long time ago on my original blog. In this post I wanted to include my original information while updating it a little and adding in an additional recipe for vanilla extract made without alcohol.
Traditionally alcohol is used as the liquid in an extract. It draws out the flavor of the vanilla beans and preserves it as well. I typically use a dark rum and this time tried brandy as the alcohol in my extract. I have seen others use vodka as well. Vodka doesn’t add any flavor of it’s own to the extract while rum and brandy tend to add a little of their own richness to the extract. Then of course the alcohol burns off when it is cooked or baked. You want to shoot for a higher grade of alcohol for a really good extract.
Glycerin is another way to make an extract and allows you to skip the alcohol if you prefer to avoid it. This way is also simple and makes a scrumptious extract as well! I like to look for non-GMO food grade glycerin. Azure Standard is actually my favorite place to order it from.
Vanilla beans is the one expensive part of making an extract. I really like the ones I order from Azure Standard as they are wonderful quality and are a really good price for vanilla beans! One package of these makes 2-3 pint jars of extract which can last a long time!
To start either extract: First you want to cut each of your vanilla beans in half width wise and then split them length wise.
Open up the bean at the split and use the tip of your knife to scrape out all the seeds.
Add these gorgeous little seeds into your jar and drop in the bean pods as well. I use 3-4 beans per pint jar. Continue this until you have all the beans in your jars.
Now the directions are a little different depending on which liquid you prefer.
For an alcohol extract simply pour the desired alcohol over the beans, add a lid and shake well. Let this sit for 6 weeks. You can then strain off the beans or just leave them in there! I like to leave mine in there as they look so pretty.
For a glycerin extract I fill my jar of beans 2/3 full with the glycerin. I then fill the jar the rest of the way with boiling water, add a lid and shake well. Label and let sit for 6 weeks. This will take on a pretty brownish tint as it sits. You can then strain the beans off or leave them in just like with an alcohol extract.
The vanilla scent on your hands may take awhile to wear off, but at least it smells amazing! Enjoy!