Here’s a fun kitchen project — making your own vanilla extract. If you’re a baker, especially a gluten free baker, you know how important it is to measure and mix all the ingredients exactly. Luckily, vanilla extract is not one of those fussy recipes. Also, if you’re a gluten free eater, you can be certain that your homemade vanilla extract is gluten free.
All you need are vanilla beans, alcohol, … and patience. Patience because you’re going to have to wait at least a month or more before you get to use your vanilla extract.
Do a search for how to make vanilla extract and you’ll find out there are as many formulas for making vanilla extract as there are people who make it … some use a generous amount of vanilla beans, others are more frugal. Most use vodka for its lack of taste that lets the vanilla flavor shine through, but some use rum or bourbon for a flavored vanilla extract. Most slice the vanilla beans open lengthwise and a few even take the trouble to scrape the seeds into the jar. Instructions on how long to wait vary from one month to eternity. If you use fewer vanilla beans, you’ll probably have to wait longer for the flavor to fully develop. Use more and it should be ready sooner.
Vanilla Products USA on Amazon, where I got my vanilla beans from, suggests chopping the beans into 1/2 inch pieces rather than slicing them. I can tell you from experience that this is good advice. More seeds stuck to my fingers from the single bean that I sliced into my jar than from all the other 39 beans I chopped with scissors combined. Chopping is not only tidy, it’s fast too. They also recommended weighing the vanilla beans, whose sizes can vary. I would be happy to weigh them if I only had a kitchen scale. Instead I estimated the amount to use, and suspect my vanilla extract is going to be just fine.
Use eight to ten 6″-7″ vanilla beans per 250 ml of alcohol (250 ml = a little more than one cup). With scissors chop several beans at a time into 1/2″ pieces into a sterilized jar or bottle. Add vodka or other 40% alcohol of your choice. Seal tightly and keep in a cool, dark cupboard. Shake gently once a day for a month, then shake once a week. Enjoy any time after one month. The flavor is supposed to get better with time! After 6 months, remove the vanilla bean pieces.
The 1/2 pound package cost under $20 and contained 70 beans. I used 30 beans for 750 ml of vodka in the mason jar and 10 for 250 ml of gold rum in the tall bottle. I possibly overdid it, but even so I still have another 30 vanilla beans left!
Hmmm…one liter of vanilla extract brewing, another 3/4 liter or more possible. Lifetime supply of vanilla extract? Early start on Christmas gifts?
As you can see in the day 1 photo, the vodka in the mason jar is already changing color. It’s already working! Check out the deep, dark vanilla goodness happening in the day 5 photo! I can’t wait to try them out! What would you make first when the vanilla extract is finally ready?
(This recipe was shared at: Gluten Free Friday)