Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract


3 medium vanilla beans, or 1 1/2 fat ones
1 cup rum or vodka


Have ready a 1-cup glass jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid; I used an empty (and clean, obviously) jar of jam. Pour boiling water into it, let rest for 10 minutes to sterilize, and pour out the water.

Using a sharp knife, slice the beans open lengthwise to expose the seeds. Tuck the beans in the jar and fill with liquor. Close the jar, shake it a few times, and place it in a cool, dark cabinet; you may have to whisper a few words of reassurance if the jar is, understandably, a little frightened.

Let the jar rest in there for 8 weeks, shaking it again once or twice a week, or whenever you remember to. The mixture will get darker and darker over time.

You can start using your extract by the end of the eighth week. Use however much you need, and when you notice that you're running a little low -- that you've used, say, 20% of the extract -- top it off with more liquor (preferably of the same type) and shake again.

And every once in a while, when you're using a fresh bean in a recipe, you can add the empty pod (rinsed off and dried if it's been steeped in milk or cream) to the jar**.

If you continue to "feed" it this way, the extract will keep forever; just remove some of the older beans if the jar becomes too crowded.

** Remember that those empty pods can also be placed in your sugar jar, olive oil bottle, or tea tin to flavor them, too.

**Buy pods in bulk on Amazon or Ebay!
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