Vanilla extract after cold percolating one month.
Making your own vanilla extract is one of those amazing kitchen tips you wish you’d known of years ago. It’s so simple, just vanilla beans and vodka in a bottle. But the payoff is big in terms of product quality, cost savings, and health benefits. Read on to find out more.
What is vanilla extract?
Vanilla extract is made by infusing ethyl alcohol with the flavor compound vanillin using one of two means, hot percolation or cold percolation. Commercial vanilla extract is usually made by percolating or macerating chopped vanilla beans with ethyl alcohol and water, an extraction process taking 48 hours using heat. After which the mixture will mellow in the tank for days or weeks before being filtered and shipped.
Homemade vanilla is better than most commercial extracts because a slow, cold percolation process is used, giving a smoother, creamier vanilla flavor. The longer it ages the better it gets, and it’ll last for years if stored properly in dark glass or a dark cupboard shelf.
Why make vanilla extract?
Besides superior flavor, homemade vanilla extract may save you money, depending on the price of beans and vodka in your region. Roughly, it should cost about $10 to make a cup of vanilla extract at home, compared to paying $15 at the supermarket.
Because you control the ingredients there are no surprises. Commercial products may have additives such as sugar, corn syrup, and colors. You don’t really need sweeteners in vanilla extract because it’s probably already going into sweets. The sugar is there to take the edge off the harshness of a non-aged product.
How many vanilla beans for homemade extract?
There are a lot of numbers floating around the Internet on how many vanilla beans to use in making extract. Some are based on FDA requirements of 13.35 ounces of beans to a gallon of alcohol/water mixture, and then trying to determine how much a vanilla bean should weigh. That’s a good place to start. Doing the math you get about 5 or 6 beans to a cup of vodka.
Total time: 5 minutes
Vanilla Extract Recipe
- 6 vanilla beans
- 1 cup vodka
- 1 dark glass bottle with cork or tight lid
- Slice vanilla bean down the center, leaving about 1 inch uncut at one end.
- Combine sliced vanilla beans and vodka in glass bottle then cover tightly.
- Store in a cool dark place, shaking a few times each weak.
- After 8 weeks it’s ready for use. You can continue to add more vodka as it gets used. Like fine wine it gets better with age.
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