Wednesday, September 3, 2014

DIY Vanilla Extract (2)

It's been almost two years since I made a gigantic 750mL batch of vanilla extract. I didn't gift any of it to anyone, aren't I selfish? I used all of it myself to make cakes, cookies, ice cream, pies, I mean, basically, any dessert that I made probably got a good dose of vanilla extract.

I've still got maybe ½ cup of extract left and I'm sure that will keep me going for another month or two. But, I had to hurry up and make another batch in the meantime. It takes about a month for the vanilla to really steep and flavor the alcohol so I got another bottle started.
It's a two ingredient recipe. You just need some good quality vanilla beans and a bottle of your favorite vodka (or bourbon or rum). You'll want at least two beans to every cup of alcohol. Now, if you want to be a freak like me, you'll grab six beans and 3 cups of vodka for a 2+ year stash of vanilla extract.

Slice the bean right down the middle to expose all of the lovely vanilla caviar.
Plop the beans into your vessel of choice. Last time I made extract, I just popped the beans into the actual bottle of vodka (after I'd taken a quick swig to make a little room). However, we've redone our kitchen since then and the vodka bottle doesn't quite fit into the baking supply shelf in our pantry. So, this time, I opted to use a mason jar. By the way, I listed a few alcohol alternatives above and they're all fine. I just prefer vodka because it has the most neutral flavor so it really lets the vanilla sing. But, in all honesty, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to add a little extra flavor from bourbon or whatever liquor you're keen on.
Pour the vodka over the beans, cap the jar (or bottle), give it a little shake-shake-shake. After that, it's just a waiting game. Give the container a little shimmy and a little shake every week or so until it's lovely and dark.
Here's what my jar looked like after about 3 weeks of steeping.
As more time passes, the darker the extract will become. After four to five weeks, you'll have a deliciously dark brown, beautifully amber liquid.
I like to decant it into this cute little bottle (which is a repurposed honey bottle that I received as a party favor at my cousin's wedding) because lugging a huge ass bottle of vanilla-laced vodka and tipping that into a bowl of batter isn't the smartest move. One slip of the finger and you've got a vanilla vodka soup instead of cookies.
xoxo.

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