I made it a goal this year to learn about or how to do 5 new things. The first thing I learned is how to DIY vanilla extract!
Why on earth would I want to do that?
1) Artificial vanilla extract tastes awful. Just say no. I promise you'll be able to tell the difference and prefer it!
2) Real vanilla extract is expensive! Especially if you buy organic!! I can only get about 2oz for about $10. (OY!)
3) Its' so flippin' easy & SO much cheaper to make it yourself!!
1) buy ingredients
2) find jar
3) cut open beans
4) put beans in jar, cover with vodka.
5) let sit in a cool, dark cupboard for a month or two.
3-5 vanilla beans (can buy in spice section at grocery store, best at natural food stores, they were much cheaper there than at Target, or Amazon is a great source!)
8 oz of vodka (rum, brandy, or bourbon would work as well)
dark place to store while aging
1) Cut open your vanilla beans length wise. Make sure they will fit in your jar. If they are too tall, you can cut them in half. (the alcohol just needs to fully cover the beans).
2) Put the beans in the jar, making sure they can all be covered by alcohol. Pour in the alcohol, and seal the lid.
3) Give the jar a few shakes.
4) Store in a cool, dark, space for 1-2 months. (the longer, the stronger)
When you use this extract, as is, after it has sat in your cupboard, it will have a vanilla bean fleck to it. If you don't like that, you can strain it through a coffee filter before using it.
Similarly, you can leave the beans in, to let the flavor strengthen, or you can remove them. You can also leave them in and refill the alcohol a little as you go. You'll be able to tell when the beans are all used up! Sources I have read recommend using beans later for vanilla flavored sugars. :)
5) Use and enjoy. As far as I can tell... as long as this is well sealed and stored in a cool and dry place, it should last until it's gone. I haven't read anything in my research to suggest otherwise.
6) Now make a bigger batch.... and never ever buy extract again. :)
Vodka will leave your extract with the most neutral flavor, but you can substitute rum, brandy, or bourbon if you'd rather. It will just change the flavor of your extract a little.
For a cost comparison: I could get 2 oz of organic vanilla extract for about $10. I DIY'd this vanilla extract, which is 8 oz for just about the same price (we used 5 beans). That's a great savings, and obviously, the larger batch you make... the cheaper it is!
Lastly, this is like one of the greatest DIY gifts ever for anyone who likes to cook or bake. Why not make a huge batch of extract... and then funnel it into small jars to give as Christmas or Mother's Day gifts?!?! It's so easy... but so appreciated!
Have you guys tried this before?! Is anyone going to? Maybe I'm just a baking nerd... but I was SO JAZZED to try this! :)
Have any of you learned about or how to do something new this year?! I'd love to hear about it!