Hey bee friends, I hope y'all are having a good day. I did some cleaning this morning and then started a big batch of vanilla extract, and I thought I would share how easy it is to make your own (and cheaper, definitely cheaper)!
The ratio is: one cup of vodka (or rum) per three vanilla beans. I tried rum the last time I made some, but the flavor was so strong I felt like it overpowered the vanilla, so I'm going back to vodka this time. It turns out that the bottle of vodka I bought was the exact right size for my packet of 10 vanilla beans, but I didn't know that going in, so I was measuring it out into the second bottle, which is an old soda bottle, lol. Now I know for future.
You just need to slice the vanilla beans lengthwise so you are able to pry it open with your fingers. It doesn't need to be in half, just enough so that the tiny little seeds inside are exposed to the vodka. I cut it with a steak knife and then pull it open with my hands, then drop it in the bottle. If you are doing a smaller batch where they will not be covered all the way if you put them in lengthwise, it's a good idea to curl them so that the open-to-seeds part is facing out (this will kinda hold it open to soak), in a circle at the bottom of your smaller bottle.
You want the beans to be completely covered by the vodka as they soak.
Once a day (it's ok if you forget a day here and there), shake the bottle to get it to mix really well, and let it soak for three months! A long time, eh? I can beat it, though: when I make drawing salve (to suck out splinters that are too deep in your skin to pull with tweezers), I tincture the plantain for a year. LOL
After three months, you can take out the beans and you have yourself finished vanilla extract.
Extra tip! When you take the beans out, put them in another container and cover them with sugar. Shake THAT to mix every day for a little while, until the beans are all dried out. Now you have vanilla flavored sugar! Use it in hot chocolate. Mmmmm. :)
Yuan was helping me sort seeds after I started the vanilla. He's such a good helper. ^_^
So I paid around $11 for the pack of 10 beans (a good price!), and around $18 for the bottle of vodka, so $29 total for ingredients. BUT I'm getting 3 1/3 cups of vanilla extract out of it. I just searched for vanilla extract and it seems to be an average of around $10 for a 2 ounce bottle. The bottle of vodka was 750 mL so ~25.3 ounces. Which would be $125 or so of vanilla extract if I was buying little bottles at the store, saving me $96! Told ya it was cheaper. ;)
Also, if you have dried out vanilla beans that snap in half like a twig instead of bend, you can still use them! Snap them into several short pieces and soak those in the alcohol. You'll still get vanilla from it! :)
Have a great day, everyone!