It’s easy to make your own vanilla extract rather than buying the expensive little bottles of (often fake) extract at the store. All it takes are a few vanilla beans, a tall bottle, and some vodka. Once it’s made, you can keep the recipe going for years by adding more vodka and vanilla beans; and, you get an extra “ingredient” – the vanilla beans. Just slice open the bean and scrape out all the seeds, they add wonderful flavor to your baking.
Which Vanilla Beans
Madagascar vanilla beans have flavor and aromatic qualities that make them superior for making vanilla extract. Individually, they are quite expensive ($2-$3/bean), but in larger quantities they are much more reasonable. I checked a variety of sources but found Grade A beans at Beanilla for $29.99 for 25 beans. Also, I was able to use a coupon code from RetailMeNot to get an additional 10% off (hey – every little bit helps).
Making the Extract
Once you’ve got your beans, just put them in the clean bottle; add good quality vodka, seal, store on a pantry shelf, and wait. The extract’s ready after a month, when the vodka will have turned light brown and smell wonderful. If you keep adding vodka and beans as they’re depleted, you’ll never need to buy extract again. And, if you know a great baker, this makes a thoughtful gift.