This is the first installment of Tips-y Tuesdays, and I figured that it should start with an appropriately alcohol-related post. Tips-y Tuesdays are going to be each week in September, and I will share simple recipes and/or tips with the intention of hearing tips from readers, too!
I had been hearing about homemade vanilla extract each time I researched buying vanilla beans. People would say how much cheaper it is and how good it is. I do like to try homemade versions of usual store staples, but even this struck me as something challenging. What about sterilizing? Getting the proportion right? How will I know when it’s ready? I was also nervous about buying vanilla beans and using them quickly enough.
Well, after the initial set of questions, and after buying vanilla beans for the first time, I have now made two batches of vanilla extract. I highly recommend it, both for price and quality.
First off, for beans, I recommend the Bourbon Madagascar vanilla beans I bought on Amazon. You get about 50-60 beans of great quality. I bought them months ago, and they are still just fine. I store them in my pantry in a sealed bag.
Next, I learned that you don’t have to worry about sterilizing the bottles because it’s alcohol! Yippee!
For the proportions, I have been using a smallish liquor bottle size of 750 mL and I use about 8 beans for that amount. To make it really simple, just put the beans in right with the alcohol! As I use the extract, I can add a little more alcohol at a time so it stays flavored.
To know when it’s ready, I should first explain the process. After you get the beans, pick your alcohol. You can either use vodka (it will be faster) or another alcohol (such as bourbon, my favorite!).
Then, split open the beans with a sharp knife.
Put the beans into the alcohol, close the bottle and shake it to mix the beans into the alcohol. Each day, shake the bottle to distribute the beans. For the vodka, you will notice the color changing rapidly and you can smell it each day to see how closely it compares to your current vanilla extract. It took about a month for mine to be just right. For the bourbon, it was closer to two months.