How to Make Vanilla Extract


ImaginAcresStanding in the baking aisle of the grocery store and staring at the choices for vanilla extract put me into a weird thinking trance that made other shoppers look at me like I was insane. I stared at all the choices for a good long while trying to figure out which was right for me. Yes, I do this with practically every purchase. It takes me hours to shop for groceries. 

I know that imitation vanilla is really just a bunch of gross chemicals manufactured to taste like actual vanilla. Real vanilla is pricey, and for someone who bakes as much as I do, it's enough to put you in the poorhouse. I looked back and forth between the organic vanilla extract and the organic vanilla beans and thought: Hold the phone, I can extract that vanilla goodness myself!! Vanilla beans at our store are eight bucks for two. A four-ounce bottle of vanilla extract is almost $10. Some quick iPhone research told me that I could make a cup of extract with two beans and save myself a decent chunk of change.

When I returned home from my grocery shopping extravaganza hours later, I set to making my extract. The process took about 5 to 10 minutes, but then I read I had to let it sit for two months before I could use it. Back to the grocery to buy some extract! I can't wait two months to bake cookies. That's ridiculous!

Here are the steps all graphically laid out for you so you can do it too! Just don't make the same mistake as I did and remember to make yourself some extract approximately two months before you're going to run out.

Step 1: Go to the store and buy 2 to 3 vanilla beans in this nifty little glass canister.  Struggle way too hard to open the cap without letting the beans come flying out at a velocity only seen in space. Fail miserably.


6/23/2015 9:43:11 AM

We used to get vanilla from kids/friends who went to the Dominican Republic. It had kind of a coconut-y aroma and flavor. I think it was made with rum, but I might be wrong. Have you ever made vanilla extract with anything besides vodka?

6/23/2015 1:08:55 AM

To those non-drinkers out there, a half pint of reasonably good vodka can be had for well under $5.00. The difference in the quality of the finished product is enormous. Ask one of the clerks at your local liquor store for recommendations if you don't have a favorite. There are even gluten-free (potato) vodkas for the terminally hip (and the few who actually have celiac disease).

1/19/2014 12:20:13 PM

Ok, so for a cup full, you saved $12 except for the vodka. We don't drink, so how much does the cup of vodka cost?

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