This is the first of the extract projects I have started. I'm so excited, and it's hard to wait the 6ish months that it takes to create great vanilla! I didn't realize how easy it was to make, and always balk at the price of 'pure' vanilla. I say 'pure' because if you read the ingredient label, they water it down and add sugar...not so pure anymore! Right now I am making regular vanilla, whiskey vanilla and rum vanilla.
How? It's SO easy!
Vodka, whiskey, rum etc. Vanilla Beans
I got my vanilla beans from Vanilla Food Company and had a wonderful customer service experience!
Try to use at least middle of the road vodka. I went with UV Vodka (distilled 4 times), 80 proof.
Cut your vanilla beans lengthwise leaving an inch or so attached at the top, drop into the bottle (remove a bit of vodka first), and put the lid on, give it a shake and wait. And wait. And wait. But you will notice over the next days and weeks that the smell is getting stronger and stronger. Many people will only put 2 or 3 beans in for a full bottle, but I put 10!
When the vanilla is ready I can either bottle it in smaller jars, or leave it as is and as I use it keep adding vodka to it. The beans are good for a long time. When you notice they aren't producing vanilla very quickly anymore, they are still useful. Retrieve them from the bottle, dry them off and put them in with some white sugar....and voila! Vanilla sugar!
For the whiskey vanilla I made a smaller quantity, so I filled two (clean of course!) large baby food jars with whiskey and added the beans. For rum I used Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum (mostly because it was on sale and recommended by the store clerk). It's a dark rum so I didn't get the satisfaction of seeing the liquid change colour like I did with the vodka, and I'm also finding it takes a lot longer to get rid of the rum smell then it did for the vodka smell.
I open them frequently and smell them....a little bit obsessively I might add! The vodka vanilla is turning very nicely, and I hope to be able to start using it in a month or two. Normally it takes 6 months, but because I put so many beans in I'm going to experiment with it a bit sooner. The other two I will leave longer since they have less beans.
It might seem expensive when you are buying the alcohol and beans, but if you look at the price of pure vanilla in the store it's actually a lot cheaper. And you can purchase organic vanilla beans too if that is something you would prefer :) If you do a lot of baking, this is something you will definitely want to try out! It also makes wonderful Christmas presents!I'm still trying to find a place (that doesn't charge an arm and a leg for shipping!), local to Edmonton preferably, that sells small glass bottles with lids...if anyone knows of such a place, please let me know!