This year I learned the best baking secret of all time and I am so excited to share it with you… Are you sure you’re ready for this, because I’m about to blow your mind?!
Have you ever used homemade vanilla extract? Have you ever made it? Y’all, I am here to tell you that once you find out how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract and then you use it in your baking, you’ll never use store-bought vanilla extract again. Making your own vanilla extract is so easy, if you’re going to make some for yourself, you may as well make some to gift to the bakers in your life. It’s not only the perfect gift, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving (keep reading to find out why).
So let’s get to it… Two ingredients is all you need to make your own vanilla extract. That’s right, I said it, two ingredients! Can you believe it?! The most obvious ingredient is vanilla beans. These beans are my favorite because they stay moist in their packaging which makes them easy to split when it comes time to making your own extract. When shopping for beans, you will find that there are typically three types of beans to chose from:
- Tahitian Vanilla – Very common with a rich floral flavor (what I use)
- Madagascar Vanilla – Very common with a rich creamy flavor
- Mexican Vanilla – Dark smokey flavor
You will also notice that vanilla beans are graded. Grade A vanilla beans are the highest grade and are typically used in cooking. (Picture Ina Garten using her paring knife to strip the vanilla beans out of their pods to make homemade vanilla bean ice cream.) Grade B vanilla beans are great for making extract, they are also less expensive (Win!). The grades are based on the beans moisture levels, Grade A is about 30% moisture and Grade B is about 20% moisture, therefore it’s great for soaking in alcohol to extract the vanilla flavor.
The second ingredient to make vanilla extract is 80 proof vodka (insert happy dance emoji). You can also use rum, bourbon or brandy. This is a time when you DON’T need to use high end liquor. Take advantage of this luxury, save the good stuff for yourself!
Once you have your two ingredients, you need glass bottles with a tight seal to put them in. I like these bottles because they the have a rubber swing top that prevents leakage. A funnel can also come in handy in preparing your extract by ensuring the vodka makes it in the bottles and not on the counter (waste not, want not).
The vanilla beans should soak in the vodka for a minimum of 8 weeks, however, the longer the beans soak in the vodka, the richer and more infused your extract will become. Ideally, you should store your extract in a cook dark place and shake weekly for 6-12 months. The longer the beans infuse, the better your extract gets.
The beauty of homemade vanilla extract is that it is incredibly pure and with the rising costs of vanilla, it’s much more affordable than store bought vanilla extract because as you use it, you just continue to add more vodka and let the beans soak… It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
Homemade vanilla extract makes the perfect gift this time of year for all the bakers in your life. I found these incredibly affordable dishtowels and these sweet mini cookie cutters to wrap up the bottles of vanilla. Tie it all up with some twine and it’s one sweet little package. (No pun intended!)
I have also included a free download of the vanilla extract labels I designed for my bottles. I hope you enjoy this incredibly easy and very fun recipe that is perfect for the season. Happy baking!