Tutorial: DIY Vanilla Extract :: Easy Like A Sunday Morning
Easy Like a Sunday Morning, that’s how the recipes in my “Easy” category will be. Nothing rushed or frantic, nothing with a long list of ingredients. Something that is so easy, you don’t really need a recipe. Something that almost cooks itself or requires no cooking at all.
There are not many things that are easier than making your own Vanilla Extract, and with a nice bottle and a pretty ribbon, it makes a lovely homemade gift.
It’s not too late (and definitely not too early) to start some Vanilla Extract for Holiday Gift Giving this year. After you’ve assembled the ingredients, they need to sit for at least four weeks before the Extract is ready to use.
Like fine wine, the DIY Vanilla gets better with time. Give a bottle of it to the baker on your Holiday Gift List this Season and let them know it’s best to tuck the bottle away for a month or so. Who bakes in January and February anyways? Don’t we all swear off sweets and get back to eating healthy in the New Year?
With all the baking and recipe development that I do, especially around the Holiday Season, it sometimes felt like I was buying Vanilla all the time and bottles of the good stuff are not cheap. My first ever batch of Vanilla Extract was ready in time for my Holiday Baking last year. I think I’m on batch number two now and can’t imagine going back to using the stuff I used to buy at the supermarket.
If you are making Vanilla Extract to give away as gifts, you will want to source out some pretty glass bottles. I repurposed a couple of cute syrup bottles I was saving for just this sort of project but the lid off one of my bottles disappeared. So I replaced it with a festive ceramic/cork wine stopper. You can see it in the picture below. On the left, is a jar of my Handcrafted Chai Spice Mix, which also makes a nice gift.
If you’re looking to buy some glass bottles, I think these Wire Bail Mini Bottles from Amazon.com are cute. Or for my fellow Canadians, the same Mini Bottle Set is available from Amazon.ca (affiliate links).
You don’t need to wait until you get fancy bottles. You can start a batch of Vanilla Extract in a Mason Jar and then transfer it to the nice bottles before gifting it. Just make sure you transfer the vanilla beans as well as the liquid. Actually, I have never removed the vanilla beans from my jars of Vanilla Extract. As long as the beans are in there, I figure they enhance the flavour but I’ve been told to make sure the beans are always submerged. Apparently, they can go mouldy after prolonged exposure to air.
You will need vodka. If you would prefer to make an alcohol free version, you should checkout this Sugar Free Alcohol Free Vanilla Extract by Amy at Simply Sugar And Gluten Free.
You can also use other types of alcohol, like rum or bourbon. I made some Vanilla Extract with rum but I prefer the extract made with vodka. The vodka is flavourless. The amber rum I used overpowered the flavour of the vanilla but I bet that Rum Vanilla Extract would be pretty good in Rum Balls.
You don’t have to use expensive vodka. I use a middle of the road popular brand but you can go for the cheap stuff, or go all out and get some fancy-smancy vodka if you like. How about Organic Vanilla Extract? You could make that if you had Organic Vodka and Organic Vanilla beans.
I’ve heard you need good quality vanilla beans but I confess I’m not sure what to look for in a vanilla bean. I picked up a two tube pack of Rodelle Madagascar Vanilla Beans at Costco. I paid what I thought was a decent price. The same brand is available at Amazon.com, or at Amazon.ca. I think they might have been cheaper at Costco, so I recommend you shop around before you buy.
Gluten Free | Dairy Free | Egg Free | Sugar Free | Real Food | Vegan | Vegetarian
- Pour vodka into the clean glass bottle.
- With a sharp knife, split the vanilla beans lengthwise. You don’t have to cut all the way through them. Just open the bean up a bit all the way down one side.
- Drop split vanilla beans into bottle with the vodka. It’s important to keep the vanilla beans fully submerged. If the vanilla beans are too long, cut them in half, or to whatever length necessary to fit down in vodka inside the bottle. Place a lid on the bottle.
- Set the bottle in a dark corner or cupboard for a minimum of 4 weeks. I put a reminder “best after” post-it note on my bottles. Shake bottle occasionally.
- The Vanilla flavour, or extraction, will reach its peak at around 8-10 weeks. After that, you can remove the beans. If you choose to leave the vanilla beans in the bottle, be sure to keep them submerged.
To see a text listing of Laureen’s gluten free recipes, click here
For dairy, egg, nut and gluten free flour substitutions, click here
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