Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vanilla Extract

Making your own vanilla extract?  This is SO easy.  I have no idea why people aren't doing it.  I actually realized how expensive vanilla was when I was calculating the cost of homemade Oreos and wondered how you would make your own.  Alas, there are lots and lots of people out there talking about how to do it - so here we go.

The store brand: McCormick Pure Vanilla

My Recipe:
1 cup vodka (I used Stolichnaya from duty-free, but normally I would go Svedka)
4 vanilla beans
1 tablespoon brown sugar (the store brand used corn syrup so I figured what the heck)

- Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the good stuff.  Chop up the shells into 1" pieces. 

- Combine the vodka and all the bean parts and let it sit for at least 1 month (up to 6 months).

- Strain out the solids before using.  I put it through a stainer to get the big pieces out and then a coffee filter to remove most of the vanilla beans.  Step two completely optional. 

The bean pods are still flavorful and vanilla is expensive - you can reuse them to make vanilla sugar or flavor your coffee!

I read up quite a bit, and it sounds like 4 or 5 vanilla beans to 1 cup vodka will give you the same concentration as a typical store brand.  I used Madagascar beans (they were the most affordable at $1.50 a piece), but there are lots of varieties out there.

My vanilla does look a little lighter than the store brand.  Taste-wise, they taste VERY similar.  I'm not sure if the concentration is the same, if you want something to have a really strong vanilla taste, maybe use a little extra, but it seems to do the job!

So how does the cost work out?  Wow, it costs a LOT less to make your own vanilla extract.  I will say my grocery store does have half price vanilla once in a while, which is when I stock up.  Even with that sale price, I can still make my own cheaper.

          Size     Cost     Cost/Oz
McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract2 fl oz $      7.99  $           4.00
Homemade1 cup $    10.00  $           1.25

So bake or buy?  BAKE!

I will say my complete lack of planning will probably put me buying this stuff in a pinch, but I'm going to try to keep up with it!  And that cup of vanilla should last me a long time - maybe I'll put it on the list to do every year when I do my canning.


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    That font hurts my eyes and is kinda hard to read. I couldn't tell a few times if it was a 'c' or an 'e'.
    Otherwise, thanks for the post!

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