Friday, January 20, 2012

DIY Vanilla Extract

I am not a huge Vodka fan. 

It reminds me too much of college parties and this terrible concoction that was made called, "Jungle Juice".  (Buy a Tupperware storage bin.  Buy the cheapest Vodka you can find on the lowest shelf,  add a few gallons of assorted fruit juices and soda.  Mix in bin.  Charge $5 a cup.)

It's hard for me to appreciate Vodka. 

Maybe because it can be made quickly and cheaply.  It doesn't need to mature or age, much like a nice wine or hard bourbon.  Or, maybe because most stories begin with a vodka mixed drink and end with someone clinging to a toilet bowl as if it were the sinking Titanic.

And why?!  Why are all Vodka ads showing sexy bikini clad robot ladies???  Or skin tight latex leather clad ladies.  Or sexy bikini clad spy ladies... 

Nevertheless, I happen to own a full liter of Vodka.  :(

I'm not sure why and I haven't touched it since the purchase.  (About a year ago)  And being stingy, I cannot see getting rid of it.

So I made vanilla extract.

Yes, that stuff you use so parsimoniously in baking.  Used so minimally, that you wonder if you even need it...

But think of that last great cookie, pancake or rich frosting you had ever tasted.  More than likely, the smooth and creamy flavors all came together based off this one key ingredient.

And making vanilla extract is so easy, cheap and sure to last you a very long time...just as long as you have that dusty bottle of Vodka on hand!

To begin with.  You'll need to purchase a vanilla bean.  Do not run to your first local grocery store and pay over $25 for one dried up vanilla bean!  Just buy them online.  Better yet, buy them off of Amazon and get free two day shipping from your Amazon Prime account.  These beans are Madagascar vanilla beans.  They're thick, plump and full of vanilla-y goodness.  I bought two from Beanilla through Amazon for less than $4.  They came vacuum sealed.  When I opened them, they were still moist, (Which is what you want!), and smelled amazing.

You will also need a knife,

A container to make your extract in,

And that cheap Vodka you've been hiding around!

Cut one bean in half.  Slit the bean through the middle.

Scrape out the seeds.

Place the slit bean halves and scraped seeds in your container.

Pour in your cheap Vodka.  (You may also use a rum if you like a rummy-er vanilla extract taste.)

Place the lid on and allow the extract to macerate in a cool and dark place.

And what did I do with the other bean?
I buried it in my sugar jar.  The vanilla aroma will permeate the sugar and make for a "vanilla flavored" sugar.

Your extract can be ready in as little as four weeks.  But like a good wine, with time, the extract will mature with deeper flavors and richness.  Also, shake your Vodka occasionally every few weeks to mix the flavors.  After the initial maceration, you may begin using your extract for cooking and baking.  But save the beans!  You can strain them out and reuse them to make more extract indefinitely.  Or keep them in the jar and keep topping it off with more Vodka.


  1. How in the world are you making vanilla extract from beef jerky?


    1. Mmmmmhmmm. Delicious meat flavored vanilla extract...