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Vanilla extract could be one of the most exciting form of real vanilla.  It is easy to make, and keeps forever.  The extract tastes better as it ages, like a good wine.  Bonus: the how-to is very easy.  The big challenge is perhaps, Patience!

But wait, how does one bake with vanilla extract?  What’s the difference between this and other forms of vanilla? Read here.

Makes 250 ml Vanilla Extract.

You will need:

30g vanilla beans (Equivalent to 8 beans for me.  Weigh your beans and err on the side of too-many-beans.)
Now you can buy organic and Fair Trade Madagascan bourbon vanilla beans from me.

250ml vodka (or any flavour-free spirit)

Clean air-tight glass bottle/jar (Helpful tip for ex-pickling jars: Bake it!)

Sharp knife and cutting board

How-to:

Run the back of the knife along the length of the bean. (This aligns and flattens out the bean for slicing.)

Grip the hooked end of the bean and slice it along its length, leaving the hooked end attached.  The bean takes on a V shape.

Scrape out seeds into your bottle/jar.

Insert harvested bean cut-end-first into bottle/jar.

Repeat for all beans.

Top up the bottle with vodka.  Ensure that the beans and seeds are fully-submerged. (Immersing the beans in alcohol prevents molding.)

Stopper/ screw on the lid tightly.  Label the date.  Stand in a cool dark place. (Hint: In your food cupboard!)

First week: Shake vigorously daily.

Rest of month 1: Shake every other day.

Month 2: Shake it when you remember. 🙂

Month 3: Your extract is ready for use!  Time to bake and shake!  (Top up with more vodka if the beans become exposed to air.)

Month 7: Remove the bean shells.  If the bean shells have been cut up, you can run it through a sieve; to removed vanilla seeds, use a coffee filter.

Decant your vanilla extract back into the bottle/jar, stopper/screw on lid tightly.

Your vanilla extract is ready to age and keep forever in your cupboard.

Tips:

A coloured glass bottle/jar prevents exposure to light.  However, do not leave it in direct light so it does not get warm.

Cutting up the bean shells into segments increases surface area for the release of flavour into the alcohol.  (I have left them long and uncut to make it easier to remove the bean shells later.)

Plan ahead!  If your jar is more wide than tall, you may need to cut up the bean shells in order to soak everything in the same volume of alcohol.

More reading:

Vanilla Review makes vanilla extract.

I like how the meticulous detail in Vanilla Review’s recipe, having gone through several other online recipes which recommend a number of beans, without consideration for size/weight of beans.
Bonus: The site has many readers and their comments teach you what mistakes to avoid.
Highly-recommended site for everything about the vanilla bean.

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