Homemade Vanilla Extract

Photo: K. Henriques

Several years ago my cousin Kacey gave me a bottle of homemade vanilla. It was delicious, and considering how much I like to bake I thought this would be a great project for me. That was about three or four years ago and I finally got around to actually following through on this back in January.

While it is very easy to make I had a lot of decisions to make before I could get started. First, I had to choose what kind of vanilla beans to use: Madagascar, Tahitian, or Mexican. There are several really fascinating blogs you can read to help narrow down what you want but to me Pioneer Woman’s was the most straightforward. In addition to describing each kind she also goes on to talk about how they grade vanilla beans and which ones are recommended for extract. Side note: I ordered my vanilla beans off Amazon.

Second, I had to decide what kind of alcohol to use. Most commonly used is vodka , but I wanted to experiment a little with something else too. Two of my favorite recipes to make use bourbon (Kentucky Derby Pie & Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Cupcakes) and apparently I bought bourbon without realizing I already had some so I decided to use it. Now that the hard part is done and you have all of your ingredients you’re ready to make your extract! I just followed the recipe from Pioneer Woman and once I measured everything out I just left it in the respective liquor bottles. Knowing I’d forget when I mixed everything together, I labeled the front of the bottles so I’d know when they were ready. Then, I put it in the pantry and would shake it every week or so.

Fast forward a couple of months… I ordered some cute amber glass bottles (4 oz.) off Amazon and prepared my workspace for bottling. I ended up with 5 bottles of the Madagascar Vanilla using vodka and 8 of the Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla. I left room in the bottle to put the vanilla beans so they could continue to meld until use. We used the regular vanilla (vodka version) in chocolate chip cookies yesterday, but I’m excited to see how the other tastes in baked goods as well. Stay tuned!

P.S. I used some of the extra vanilla beans to make homemade vanilla ice cream for the Deconstructed Apple Pie recipe here.

3 responses to “Homemade Vanilla Extract”

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