Vanilla extract is one of those things that never occured to me to make at home. Then around the holidays last year, posts started cropping up all over the food blog world, and I had to give it a try. It makes so much sense. I buy strictly organic, fair trade vanilla extract and it isn't cheap; upwards of $11 for a 2oz bottle. For just a few dollars more, I made 1 1/2 pints of my own!
The one drawback to making your own vanilla extract is that it takes time. A couple months of time. This process is not for the impatient; I nearly went crazy waiting on mine to be ready! It is really fun, however, to watch the liquid turn from crystal clear to deep amber over those long, long weeks. But now that it's ready I love opening the jar, taking a whiff, dunking my measuring spoon in the seemingly bottomless well, pouring it in the mixing bowl and licking the spoon. Yes, licking the spoon. It seems almost too decadent to have such an abundance of vanilla extract, and I love it. I'll never go back to store bought.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
adapted from Simply Recipes
1/2 pint jar with tight-fitting lid
3 vanilla beans
vodka (I've also heard of people using rum. I used Rain organic vodka)
Split vanilla beans from end to end with a sharp knife, leaving the ends connected and place in jar. Fill jar with vodka, covering vanilla beans completely. Screw lid on tight. Give the jar a good shake. Place in a cool dark place, and shake it every few days. In about 8 weeks, your vanilla extract will be ready to use! You can keep filling the jar with vodka as you use your vanilla, shake the jar a few times a week and you'll never have to buy vanilla again!