If you’re like me, baking is a year round thing. But there is something about the crispness of fall that makes my kitchen beckon me. It calls me to begin looking into new recipes, pulling out family favorites and begin thinking about all the baking that will be done in the months to come.
Many of these recipes will call for some of the same ingredients, namely vanilla extract. But store bought vanilla extract just causes me heartache. Most of what you will find in stores is not much more than flavored water filled with high fructose corn syrup. And if you do read the labels and find the real deal, it’s anything but cheap. And most of the real vanilla extract is still cut with water.
So what’s the health conscious baker to do? You make your own! Not only is making your own vanilla extract fun, it’s super easy. It only takes a few ingredients, it’s way more cost effective than buying it, and it makes great gifts. Your foodie friends will love you (and think you’re so smart for knowing how to make your own vanilla extract.)
Watch the video to see just how easy homemade vanilla extract is.
All you need to get started is vanilla beans, jars, alcohol, and time. I order my vanilla beans from Amazon and have had great results with these. As for the jars, small jelly jars work great. If you want a different look, try these jars that I used and are the perfect size. I prefer 4 oz jars for my vanilla extract, but 2 oz will also work. Basically any small glass jar will do the job.
The next ingredient will require a trip to the liquor store since you’ll need vodka, whiskey, or rum. So even though we don’t personally drink alcohol, I usually make a yearly trip to stock up for vanilla extract and all my herbal tinctures. Most people use vodka as it gives the cleanest vanilla taste. But you will find some people who prefer or like whiskey or rum. The flavor of the whiskey or rum will still be tasted if one of these is used. Again, since we don’t drink I can’t speak to flavors of alcohol, and I usually use vodka. But this time I did decide to try a few bottles with whiskey, we’ll see how those turn out.
Waiting is the hardest part of making your own vanilla extract.
The last ingredient is time. But it’s not active time. You can whip up several bottles of vanilla extract in just a few minutes, but then you have to wait at least three months. That’s the hardest part, especially since I usually procrastinate and wait until I’m all out before starting my next batch. 🙁
It takes at least three months for the alcohol to extract that beautiful vanilla flavor, but can be left six months to a year. I typically can’t wait longer than three months (remember I’ve usually ran out), so I just begin using one jar and leave the vanilla bean in the jar to continue extracting. Problem solved.
But that’s it. All you need for homemade vanilla extract that will make those apple and pecan pies, cookies and brownies taste even more amazing. The taste of homemade vanilla extract is so much better than store bought. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s homemade and somehow that just makes it better. But it’s usually stronger too so you often only need about half of what a recipe calls for. Unless you’re like me and just enjoy the flavor so you still add the same amount. 🙂
Recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract
There you have it. Simple, quick, and much better for you than the chemical or fructose filled store bought vanilla extract. So order your supplies and get started now so you can have a well stocked kitchen for all your holiday baking and gifting.