Make homemade vanilla extract with rum or vodka
The end of the year holidays seem eons away since we are just now starting to see some spring sun. But if you want to brew your own vanilla extract and have it ready for those fall bake-a-thons, NOW is the time to start.
Vanilla extract is simple; traditionally it is just vanilla beans and vodka. When giving gifts, that's my go to recipe. When making my own, I prefer the taste of rum. Any high grade alcohol will do; experiment.
The recipe is mind-boggingly simple. Add three Madagascar vanilla beans (cut down the middle with a knife to speed the process) for each cup of alcohol. You can use a mason jar or any glass jar really (I used an old maple syrup jar that was too cute to recycle). Store in a dark cupboard and shake it about once a week or when you think about it.
I've heard this method makes vanilla extract that is ready to use in three months. I disagree. In three months it will look brown and ready but when you unscrew the lid it will smell more like alcohol than vanilla. Right around the nine month mark is when you open it and that heavenly vanilla smell overpowers the alcohol. And the longer it sits the better it gets. I tend to make a batch in December to give as gifts at Thanksgiving.
As you use it over the year, you can top off the alcohol. Every once in a while, toss in another bean. This can go on perpetually so you never really run out. Some people strain the little seeds, I leave them so I have little speckles when I make vanilla pudding or ice cream.
That's it. Isn't it amazing how easy this is and how overpriced in grocery stores?
Oh, and don't buy vanilla beans from your grocery; go online. They are fresher and less expensive. I buy these from Amazon, but any kind you like will do. Note, the ones I buy from Amazon may seem like a lot, but trust me, that is a lot of beans.