Have you ever made your own homemade vanilla extract? I will never go back to buying vanilla extract. It is so easy to make your own at home, costs a fraction of what a bottle of high-quality vanilla extract costs, and tastes amazing! Plus, it’s pure, with no additives, sugar, etc. I make both a vodka-based version and a rum-based version. Both are delicious, but I prefer the rum-based version, as it has more richness. The vodka-based version is great when you don’t want anything but straight vanilla flavor. Some people use bourbon, though I haven’t tried that yet. Keep in mind that vodka is often made from grains (wheat, barley, and rye), so if you’re gluten-free, find a brand that is made from corn, potatoes, or grapes. It really will depend on your sensitivity as to whether the grain-based vodkas will bother you. I have heard testimony on both sides of the issue. For a gluten-free vodka list, check out this post. Rum is made from molasses or sugar cane juice, so it will be grain-free. Bourbon is typically made from corn.
Homemade vanilla also makes a great gift. Bottle it in a pretty bottle and your foodie friends will be thrilled. I brewed mine in my flip-top Grolsch-style bottles, but you could brew a huge batch in a mason jar and then pour it up into smaller bottles when it’s ready.
For the alcohol, you can go cheap or expensive. I prefer to go middle of the road. Nothing too cheap, but I’m not going to splurge for top shelf rum or vodka either. If you have a brand of vodka or rum that you like, then go with that. If not, Smirnoff or Absolute are good quality vodkas, though they are both made from grains. This last batch, I made with Smirnoff and I really liked it. For rum, I used Bacardi this last time, and it had great flavor. The next batch I make, I’m going to use spiced rum for some. I think that would add awesome flavor to certain items.
How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract
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The process is very simple.
You will need approximately 40 vanilla beans per 1.75 liters (roughly a half gallon) of alcohol.
1. Find the jar(s) or bottle(s) that you want to use. Wash them well and allow them to air dry.
2. Using a sharp knife, slice the vanilla beans in half, but don’t go all the way through. You want them to stay intact and just expose the little seeds inside.
3. Place your split vanilla beans in your containers.
4. Fill with your rum or vodka and cover with a tight lid.
5. Label your jar(s) and stick them someplace where they can just work their magic for a minimum of 6 weeks, though I prefer a longer “brew”. I think the last batch I made went for 3-4 months. Some people say 6 months is ideal. You can taste it along the way and see how the flavors develop for you.
6. Every week or so, give the bottle a shake.
7. After 6 weeks to 6 months, it will be ready to use. Use just like you would any other vanilla.
Note: Some people will reuse the vanilla beans to make second batches, but the flavor won’t be as good. I personally don’t bother, because I really like the strong flavor of the first brew.
This post is part of Fat Tuesday
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