Friday, January 4, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Less buying, more diy-ing:
Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract
Gorgeous homemade bourbon vanilla extract in the morning light. 
Like yesterday's DIY brown sugar post, once you've experience the taste of homemade vanilla extract you'll never go back. Again like yesterday's post, this requires but two ingredients: fresh vanilla pods and alcohol. This one will require a wee bit of patience; once assembled the vanilla needs a few weeks for the flavor to deepen properly, but the payoff is enormous. There is no comparison between homemade and store bought; where store bought smells/tastes weak and over alcohol-y, homemade is rich and full of natural vanilla aroma and taste.
Whole vanilla beans, stem ends. Ready to be turned into extract. 
While most DIY vanilla recipes call for a neutral alcohol like vodka, I prefer to use an unblended whiskey or bourbon. The natural oak-y notes in bourbon blend perfectly with the fresh vanilla to create a mellow yet robustly flavored extract that is still perfect for baking. The ability to easily replenish your supply is one of the very best things about DIY vanilla extract. When you're running a little low just add a bit more alcohol, maybe another split vanilla bean and voila, you're topped off. Now I do a lot of baking, so my vanilla lives in an old 750ml Bulleit Rye bottle, not only is it a beautiful bottle that looks pretty bad ass on my pantry shelf but its also just the right size for my needs. If you bake less frequently maybe a smaller size is in order. A little tip though, homemade vanilla extract makes a fantastic gift, so why not make a big batch and share it with some well deserving friends?

Homemade Vanilla Extract:

You will need a glass bottle or jar with a screw top
or tightly fitting corked lid
fresh vanilla beans

You will need a ratio of approximately 3 vanilla beans per 1 cup of alcohol

Using a small, sharp knife split your vanilla beans lengthwise by making a cut just below the stem and run your knife along the length of the bean,
splitting it in two,
leaving stem end attached.

Using the knife, scrape the pulp from the interior of one of the split vanilla beans.
Place the scraped pulp into your jar or bottle.
Add split vanilla beans, including the scraped one.
Funnel the appropriate amount of alcohol into the bottle.
Tightly cover your bottle or jar and give it a good shake.

Place your bottle/ jar in a cool, dark place and allow it to sit for at least 4 weeks.
Be patient!
The longer you let the vanilla beans steep in the alchol,
the darker and richer your extract will be. 
My big ol' bottle of homemade vanilla extract. Needs a bourbon top-off. 

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