(I made three bottles – with vodka, brandy & rum to experiment. In 5 weeks time I’ll know which one came out best!)
(I used clear glass jars despite the “instructable” suggesting to use dark glass to protect the extract from direct sun exposure. I’ll put them in a dark cupboard instead!)
Do you have half-consumed bottles of vodka (or brandy or rum) sitting in your cupboard that’s been long forgotten about? Well, here’s an idea. You can infuse them with vanilla pods to concoct yourself a superior homemade vanilla extract.
Y’see, now that I’m walking around the house with a baby sling instead of partying like an animal (!?), I decided that I might aswell turn these forgotten alcoholic beverages to good use, by baking it in to cakes & stuff. Much more useful – having a boozy vanilla extract instead…
The supermarket price VS the cost to home-make:
A bottle of bog standard vanilla extract off the supermarket shelf can be pricey at around £4.00 for a measly 100ml. As for purchasing just ONE pod, it ranges from £1.44 for the cheapest to an extortionate £2.26.
I figured out that this project could turn out a tad expensive. The recipe requires 30g of pods (8 to 10 pods) to 250ml. Thats hell-of-a-lot of pods… If you buy pods off-the-shelf for this, it’s like over 14 pounds for the pods, then you gotta think of how much the alcohol would cost on top of that!
Luckily, my homemade brew costs a lot less in comparison, as my vanilla pods are cheap (I got mine from a wholesaler at £75 for 1kg), & as for the alcohol, I worked out that it costs just over £1 for 100ml. To make a 250ml, it’ll probably cost me just under 3 pounds.
For the recipe, I followed the “instructable” & its author’s website it links to. (“Instructable” is a website where passionate people share what they do & how they do it, & learn from others. – I love whiling away my time browsing the often bizarre & original food ‘instructables’. The recent ‘I-wish-I-came-up-with-that-idea’ I found was to use a playdough extruder to make long square rods of cookie dough to make pixel patterned cookies!!)
The instructable goes to great lengths to document the recipe for vanilla extract, & I’m not even gonna try to emulate.
But here’s the RECIPE, nut-shell version:
- 1. Sterilize the bottle(s) by boiling them for 10 minutes.
- 2. Work out how many pods you need. It’s 30 grams (8-10 beans) per 250 ml of 40% alcohol.
- 3. Split the pod lengthways, scrape the beans & put both pod-skin & beans in to the bottle. Here, it’s best to chop the pod-skin in to fourths so it stays submerged in the alcohol.
- 4. Fill with alcohol (vodka most recommended, else, brandy or rum).
- 5. Tightly shut the lid & vigorously shake the bottle.
- 6. Shake everyday for the first week. And in weeks 2, 3 & 4, shake the bottle a few times a week.
- 7. Week 5: Ta-daaa! You’re now a proud owner of alot of vanilla extract!
Note: Shake the bottle if you want the seeds/ beans in your recipe. And top-up with more alcohol if the pod-skin gets exposed. After 6 months you can take the pod-skins out as the extraction has finished by then.
using vodka for the extraction was best. The rum/ brandy, the distinct smell of the alcohol overpowered the delicate vanilla scent. Read the results of the vanilla extract experiment here.