Once you bake with homemade vanilla extract, I promise you that you won’t buy the store bought stuff anymore.
I love to bake. I also love to give away my baked goods as gifts because I usually make too much. When people try my chocolate chip cookies or zucchini bread, they always want to know my secret, why it tastes so good.
My secret is using homemade vanilla extract. It really makes a difference in the flavor of your baked goods, even if you only use a teaspoon per batch. For example, try using the homemade vanilla extract in my Giant Chocolate Chip in a Cast Iron Pan Recipe or Chocolate Zucchini Breakfast Muffins Recipe.
Vanilla extract is super easy to make, but it does take some time. Thankfully, once you’ve made it, it will last for several months, so feel free to make a large batch at once. I have even gifted it to my friends and family for Christmas, and it was very much appreciated.
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT…
To make vanilla extract, you just need an alcohol and vanilla beans. If you don’t drink, don’t worry because the alcohol cooks off during baking.
What Kind of Alcohol for Homemade Vanilla Extract?
You can use one of a few kinds of alcohol.
Vodka doesn’t have much a flavor, so it gives you the truest vanilla flavor. An 80 proof is best to use for the alcohol content. You want to buy a mid-grade vodka; nothing too expensive but not a cheap one either. If you don’t know what kind to buy, the clerks at liquor stores are usually good at recommending one for making vanilla.
If you’re feeling a little spunky, try making vanilla extract with brandy, rum, or even bourbon. The flavor of the alcohol will alter the flavor of the vanilla, but this could be a good thing in certain recipes.
What Kind of Vanilla Beans for Homemade Vanilla Extract?
Like when you’re shopping for the alcohol, you don’t need top grade beans. You actually want a vanilla bean with a low moisture content, which is usually called extract grade or grade B. Vanilla beans are not cheap. In fact, you’ll probably spend more to make your homemade vanilla extract than you would to buy it, but I promise that the difference in taste is worth it.
I’ve bought beans from the grocery store, specialty cooking stores, and bulk stores. All gave me wonderful tasting vanilla extract. You can buy the vanilla beans in bulk online to save money. They should be individually wrapped, so they will last for quite a while.
This recipe makes 8 ounces of vanilla, but feel free to make more. If you are making more than three or four cups, I would use two vanilla beans per cup of alcohol instead of three beans per cup of alcohol.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT
- 2-3 vanilla beans
- 1 cup alcohol
Lay each bean on a cutting board. Use a knife to cut a slit through the top of the bean the entire length of the bean. You don’t want to cut all the way through.
Place the cut beans and alcohol in a mason jar. If the alcohol doesn’t cover the beans, cut your beans in half so they are completely submerged.
Shake the beans and alcohol once a week.
Let the beans and alcohol infuse for at least four weeks before using.
I normally leave the beans in the infusion for a stronger flavor. When I’ve used about ¼ of the vanilla, I add more alcohol. I don’t let it sit again before using. This works well for me until I’ve refilled about the original amount of alcohol.
If you notice the vanilla isn’t as strong, remove the beans and let dry.
Most people discard the beans, but I like to put the bean and a cup of sugar in a container and let sit for a few weeks. This gives you a nice vanilla sugar that is perfect for topping desserts, especially apple pie.
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