Friday, January 6, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

So the question arose... Homemade Vanilla Extract?

Yeah, I said it. Homemade.

It's so easy, so yummy, so great to receive as a gift, and so cheap to gift- Give it a go.

[insert picture of my homemade vanilla extract here]

Where the heck is your picture with your fancy camera, you might be asking.

Well, let me tell you. Homemade vanilla extract- once done percolating is not that attractive to photograph. Picture opaque colored yellowish water with things floating in it. And beans. There is a reason that the store bought stuff comes in a dark container. So, trust me... I tried. And failed.

That being said, much like baklava, just because it does not look amazing does not mean it cannot add some serious panache to your kitchen. When I made my first batch of HVE there was about an hour spent on google trying to figure out how to do it. Fact of the matter is... There is no WRONG way to do it. So, grab the vodka and let's go!

What you will need:

sharp paring knife (those beans are waxy)
smooth cutting board
vanilla beans
a jar with a tight fitting lid- like a mason jar
(I'm a fan of these and these for after the HVE is done. Both hide those floating things and look pretty cool in the cabinet)
and, of course... vodka. Any brand from your liquor cabinet will be just fine. Unless you drink Mr. Boston, than there are bigger problems in the kitchen than a lack of HVE.

On your cutting board with your sharp knife- hold the bean steady with your finger and slice it open. You can take your knife to pull out the goods, but you don't have to. You can do a bunch of fancy things to the bean, but cutting it in half is all that is necessary.

* Drop the bean halves in your jar.
* Cover with vodka.
* Give it a good shake.
* Let sit for two to six weeks.
* Drain into your cool blue jars.
* Prepare to be dazzled.

Not kidding. 

Okay, okay... you want measurements. I know you do. I did, too... But, here is the thing: some people (like myself) are in love with vanilla & use it any chance they can. Some people (people with no taste buds) don't care for the flavor of vanilla flavor and thinks it should be more of a background tap dancer and not Sammy Davis, Jr.

Check it out:

12 vanilla beans to one 750ml of vodka
40 vanilla beans to 1750ml of vodka
18 vanilla beans to 750ml of vodka
4 vanilla beans to 750ml of vodka
3 vanilla beans to 475ml of vodka

So, what does this mean?

(a) one should never use a whole bottle of vodka for vanilla extract. What will the Bloody Marys be made with? Or the Cosmos? Or, a favorite around Augusta, the Azaleas?

(b) beans are expensive... so's the good vodka.

(c) I, personally, like half a bean -ish ("up to down" half, not "left to right" half) per cup of vodka (plus an extra half) and let it sit at least a month. If I am making 2 cups of HVE, than I will use 1.5 beans.

And, yes, I do use about half a bottle of vodka per the making. Why go against my own advice? I like vanilla diet coke... almost as much as I like wine.

In the words of Dorothy Rohn (my grand uncle's sister in law- yeah, you like that too), "do write and speak of your mistakes."


JRJ said...


Anonymous said...

How does one make an "Azalea"?