Wednesday, May 21, 2014

DIY Vanilla Extract

I love finding out I can make my own things, like brown sugar or laundry detergent. But when I saw this post by TidyMom on how to make your own vanilla extract, I was all in. Sure, I knew it would take a while, but it's totally worth it in the end. The smell alone is heavenly! So here's what you'll need:

1. Vanilla beans (available at your grocery store with the spices)
2. Vodka
3. A glass container to hold the vanilla
4. A sharp knife
5. Something to remind you once a week (app on your phone, perhaps?)
6. (optional) A funnel or measuring glass to help pour the vodka into the container

Start by cutting your beans in half (so I had two long beans and cut them in half to make four small beans)

Then using your knife, start 1/4" from one end and carefully slice the bean in half lengthwise.

Place the beans into your container (I just used the same container the beans originally came in), and pour in your vodka. The original post recommends 6-8 vanilla bean pieces (or 3 to 4 whole beans) with 8 ounces of vodka.

And now... the waiting game. Place your container in a dark, cool place (like the back of the pantry) and once a week, shake the container. How long do you have to do this? Well, 6 weeks is fine but if you wait 8 weeks, the flavor and color will be more intense. Here's what mine looked like week by week:

You can see the gradual change in color week by week, but you have to be patient (and you have to remember to shake it -- I had to set a reminder on my phone for the same day/time every week). Have fun making your own vanilla extract -- these would be great gifts come the holiday season!

TOTAL COSTS: About $18 (but I also bought a 750ml bottle!)
$5.99 for vanilla beans from Whole Foods
$11.99 for Smirnoff vodka from BevMo

You can start using the vanilla around the 6 week mark but I recommend waiting another two weeks so you can have a richer flavor!

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): 1 out of 5
You're not doing much of anything, it's the vodka and vanilla that's doing all the work!

1 comment:

  1. For a long while we just had a bottle I added to every time I had a new vanilla bean, so it was always a work in progress.

    This also works as a on-the-fly cologne; it doesn't make your skin sticky.