OK, I finally got off my lazy rear end and dug out my homemade lightbox. I am tired of my pictures looking ...well, tired. Plus, this project for homemade vanilla extract deserves it!
I found this a little over a month ago on Travelers Lunchbox and thought "HOW COOL IS THAT?" Who would of thought that making your own vanilla extract would be so easy.
So, I jumped on Ebay and one week and $15 bucks later I had a 1/4 pound of Tahitain Vanilla beans. I had most of a bottle of vodka left over from a party and I was in business.
I split about a half a dozen beans and plopped them into the vodka. My next step was finding some cute little bottles (which actually was the hardest part). I finally found them at Michaels. Several weeks later I have pleanty of vanilla extract for my holiday baking and hmmmm... wouldn't these make cute gifts?
The pictured bottles still need a little more time before they are quite ready to use but I was too excited to wait any longer to share this. You want the extract to be a nice rich brown color.
There is not an exact science to this. More beans = faster and richer extract. Melissa at Travelers Lunchbox also suggests jumpstarting your homemade extract with a bottle of good quality storebought extract. If you use vanilla beans on a regular basis you can use the left over beans. Again, this will result in a slower production.
Here is the coolest part of this. Once you start a bottle of vanilla extract you simply keep topping it off with additional vodka and you will have an unending bottle of vanilla! You can add additional vanilla beans as you use them. As long as a bean still has the vanilla scent it still has life. If you have used a whole bean in your recipe(such as boiling it in milk) just give it a rinse before adding to the bottle. If you don't ever used vanilla beans in cooking you can add a couple of new ones split down the middle every once in awhile.
Everlasting Vanilla Extract
1 L Vodka (any brand)
6-8 Vanilla beans
Split beans down the middle with a sharp knife. Drop Beans into Vodka. Store in a cool dark place. Once a week give bottle a bit of a shake. In 6-8 weeks you will have a rich bottle of extract.
Once extract is established pour a few ounces into a smaller bottle for every day use and top off larger bottle with additional vodka. Continue to do this as you use your vanilla.