Monday, September 24, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I don't know about you, but given how quickly September is flying by, I feel like the holidays will be sneaking up on us in no time. Personally, I cant wait! I've already got my mind on rum cakes and candied pecans galore, but this year I thought i'd try something new: homemade vanilla.

When making vanilla, the beans need to steep in vodka for about 12 weeks, so now is the ideal time to make it.  I must admit, this is not the most economical recipe (vanilla beans cost about $2.50 each), but a small bottle of vanilla will go a long way in baking.  I'm thinking a small, decorative bottle with a handwritten recipe card that incorporates the vanilla will make a charming gift for friends or neighbors.

Here's how to make it:  You will need one vanilla bean per quarter cup of unflavored vodka (I'm using Absolut).  Carefully cut the vanilla bean lengthwise, exposing the small vanilla beans inside. Cover completely with the vodka (if you're making a small amount, halve or quarter the beans to ensure that they are covered).  Let steep for at least 12 weeks in a cool, dry place, and gently shake the mixture ever week or so.  If you leave the vanilla bean in the bottle, you can continuously add vodka after you use a bit (just be sure that the bean is always submerged so it does not mold).  Enjoy!

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