Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world (Saffron is numero uno). So it is only logical that vanilla extract would seem to cost you an arm and leg in the grocery store. Sometimes I would try to compensate with artificial vanilla extract, but it just didn't have the same aroma, and I found the flavour always evaporated slightly with cooking.
So I took it as my mission to make my own: for future gifts to friends and family (what a great gift these would be!), but also to show my readers just how far you can take the concept of 'homemade foods'!
So I bought a pack of 20 boston round bottles (4 oz) off the internet, 50 vanilla pods from Ebay, and cute ribbon I found at Winners. Finding the day to actually make the stuff was the main dilemma... until today. So, I grabbed some vodka and some rum and got to work!
Unfortunately I ran out of alcohol half way through (!!), but I was able to get 9 bottles of the stuff prepared. Not bad!
I think the frustrating part is the fermenting process. Now that they've been vanilla-d, vodka-d, labeled, and ribboned, they need to be packed away in the dark for at least two months. They will need to be shaken every couple weeks, but they won't become homemade vanilla extract until the actual vanilla is 'extracted' from the vanilla pod! Right now, they're just dried pods floating in vodka. I'm not sure how that would make your vanilla custard taste for a strawberry tart...
I used two different types of alcohol out of interests sake: rum and vodka (but not together... but that'd be interesting too!). Rum has a sweeter flavour and will add a richness to the vanilla extract. Vodka, on the otherhand, is comparably less flavourful and so it will allow the pure taste of vanilla to come through. I suppose it depends entirely on your own preference! For my next batch, I am going to use brandy.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Ingredients:- vanilla pods (you will need about 5 pods per cup of alcohol... I used 2-3 pods per 4 oz bottle)
- alchohol: vodka, rum, or brandy (a 4 oz bottle holds 1/2 cup liquid)
- *bottles/jars/cans/anything with a tight lid
- decorations and labels, if you wish
Directions:1. fill your clean bottle(s) with alcohol
2. Cut your vanilla pods in half if you are using shorter bottles (you want them to be able to fit inside), and using a sharp knife, cut a seam down the length of the pods. You don't need to cut all the way through, just enough to allow the alcohol to seep inside.
3. Put your cut vanilla pods into the bottles, and seal tightly. Decorate as you desire
4. Leave it to ferment in a dark box for at least 2 months, shaking them gently every 1-2 weeks. You can leave them for up to 6 months for a more intense flavour.
*Note: it is important to use clean bottles, or you risk contaminating your extract.
Did you try the recipe, and use another kind of alcohol? Let me know in the comments! Both me and other readers are curious what works.