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Old 08-21-2018, 08:17 PM   #1
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Making Vanilla

Hi!
I haven't been here for so long! I was thinking about making my own vanilla with vanilla beans & vodka. I know it has to ferment for about a month. My question is can I use the liquid as vanilla extract? I know you're supposed to cut the tip of the bean & squeeze the insides, seeds (?) out to use as flavoring. Of course, I'd keep adding beans & vodka as I use it. (I may just have to taste the liquid to make sure it's ok.)



Thanks everyone!

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Old 08-21-2018, 09:16 PM   #2
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I don’t know squat about vanilla extract, except for what I buy in the store. I’m pretty sure what I buy doesn’t have any liquor in it! But this intrigued me, so I googled diy vanilla extract, and sure enough, every recipe calls for vodka (although one recipe suggested using different spirits like rum or scotch). So how do they make that “100% pure” vanilla extract that comes out of that expensive little brown bottle?
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Old 08-21-2018, 09:22 PM   #3
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My Trader Joe's vanilla.Click image for larger version

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Old 08-21-2018, 09:29 PM   #4
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I make my own vanilla extract regularly, and give it to family and friends. It makes a good gift during the holidays for people who like to bake. It is really easy, but not cheap. Vanilla beans are pricey right now.

I cut and slice the beans to expose the seeds inside, and put them in mason jars of vodka. It takes more than a month -- I go at least three months. You need to agitate the jars daily, for the first few weeks (shake them), and then at least once a week, to keep the process going.

I use four beans, cut in half, and split, in one pint of vodka.

What you end up with is vanilla extract that you COULD pour over ice, and drink... it is that good. But, that would be a very expensive cocktail.

All the bakers I have given it to love it. It is definitely better that "artificial" vanilla extract.

Go for it! It is easy, and good.

CD
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:19 AM   #5
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CD do you have any pics of your process. I make brûlées a lot, this could enhance the flavours.

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Old 08-22-2018, 03:34 AM   #6
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CD do you have any pics of your process. I make brûlées a lot, this could enhance the flavours.

Russ
Sorry, no pictures.

I give most of my homemade vanilla extract away to friends and family, as I don't do much baking.

It is a very simple process. Just follow what I did in my previous post. It takes time, and a little bit of attention.

CD
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:24 AM   #7
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Thanks so much for your responses. I'll be getting some vanilla beans. I wish I had thought of this earlier since I bake a lot of different cookies for Christmas. Another question. Is there a big difference using bourbon as opposed to vodka? I would imagine the flavor might be stronger with bourbon?
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:23 AM   #8
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Aother question. Is there a big difference using bourbon as opposed to vodka? I would imagine the flavor might be stronger with bourbon?
I'm guessing as I have never made vanilla extract.

But for flavour strength - might I suggest:-

Take a hefty slug of one, swirl around mouth, swallow, repeat with other flavour. Decide which you find leaves a stronger in taste.
Repeat as necessary til satisfied with conclusion.


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Old 08-22-2018, 10:13 AM   #9
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I was in Penzeys last week and noticed a 16 ounce bottle of single strength vanilla extract was priced at $89.95!

If you plan on buying vanilla beans to make your own, be prepared to write a BIG check.
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:36 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by nuzzmark View Post
Hi!
I haven't been here for so long! I was thinking about making my own vanilla with vanilla beans & vodka. I know it has to ferment for about a month. My question is can I use the liquid as vanilla extract? I know you're supposed to cut the tip of the bean & squeeze the insides, seeds (?) out to use as flavoring. Of course, I'd keep adding beans & vodka as I use it. (I may just have to taste the liquid to make sure it's ok.)



Thanks everyone!
Yes, dead easy and saves money after the initial prep. Use a clean jar (I scalded mine with boiling water but that could be a bit extreme given the "antiseptic" qualities of Alcohol. Just make sure the jar is spotless) which is tall enough to hold the pods upright and add vodka to cover the pods. You don't squeeze out the "caviar" (as some people call the seedy goo from inside the pod) prior to putting the pods in the vodka.

Personally, I don't think a month is long enough to develop the flavour in the liquid and it lasts forever (well, my jar has been on the go for about 10 years and I think it will see me out ) From time to time I top it up with vodka (you don't need expensive and fancy varieties of vodka - just make sure it's the real McCoy) and a few pods if you've been using them. When you've taken the "seeds" out of the pod, you can put the pod back in the jar as it retains a lot of flavour and use it when flavouring milk for custards, etc.

Oh, and store your vanilla "farm" in the dark.

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:40 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by nuzzmark View Post
Thanks so much for your responses. I'll be getting some vanilla beans. I wish I had thought of this earlier since I bake a lot of different cookies for Christmas. Another question. Is there a big difference using bourbon as opposed to vodka? I would imagine the flavor might be stronger with bourbon?
I haven't tried it as I've always used vodka but I would think that Bourbon or any other flavoured alcohol would interfere with the vanilla taste.
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:42 AM   #12
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I can't tell you how glad I am that I bought 10 vanilla beans two years ago (I had started making my own vanilla a year or so earlier). I had heard that the price was going to go up because of cyclone damage to the vanilla plantations in Madagascar, where most of the world vanilla supply is grown. FYI, a lot of the vanilla from Mexico is actually bought from Madagascar and repackaged.

Since it's being preserved in alcohol, it will last forever. As others have said, just keep topping it off and shaking it every so often.

Btw, it doesn't ferment. The flavors are soluble in alcohol, so it's an infusion.

Edit: I just checked Amazon - Vanilla Products USA is selling Madagascar-grown vanilla beans, 10 for $34.95.
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:30 AM   #13
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I'm glad I've been hoarding vanilla extract from our Mexico trips. I have at least 3 partial bottles of really good vanilla that was quite cheap when I bought it. Need to do more baking...

I've also made my own extract with (cheap when I bought them) split beans in vodka. Haven't tried them in bourbon, but it sounds like it would be a nice taste, maybe in fruitcake or a molasses dessert.
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:31 AM   #14
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Oh my gosh! I love Discuss Cooking! There's always someone ready to help with anything you ask. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all!


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Old 08-22-2018, 11:43 AM   #15
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I see the basic process for making extract. Really simple. When you've used some of the extract, you add more vodka to top off the jar, shake and continue. Eventually they lose their strength and can't flavor the vodka any more.

Just how long does the original bunch of pods last?
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:19 PM   #16
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Seven years, according to the instructions here Looks like I've actually been making it for five years. I got this "starter kit" - the bottle and three vanilla beans - for $7.99 at TJ Maxx. I've added a few more since then. I also put a couple vanilla beans in my sugar canister for vanilla sugar

I need to pick up some more vodka.
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:33 PM   #17
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That's pretty cool, GG..
I'll have to check local outlets for a kit...

Ross
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Old 08-22-2018, 07:00 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by nuzzmark View Post
Thanks so much for your responses. I'll be getting some vanilla beans. I wish I had thought of this earlier since I bake a lot of different cookies for Christmas. Another question. Is there a big difference using bourbon as opposed to vodka? I would imagine the flavor might be stronger with bourbon?
I have not tried other spirits for vanilla extract. I suspect there would be a very big difference in flavor, since vodka a a very neutral sprit.

CD
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Old 08-22-2018, 07:07 PM   #19
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Yes, dead easy and saves money after the initial prep. Use a clean jar (I scalded mine with boiling water but that could be a bit extreme given the "antiseptic" qualities of Alcohol. Just make sure the jar is spotless) which is tall enough to hold the pods upright and add vodka to cover the pods. You don't squeeze out the "caviar" (as some people call the seedy goo from inside the pod) prior to putting the pods in the vodka.

Personally, I don't think a month is long enough to develop the flavour in the liquid and it lasts forever (well, my jar has been on the go for about 10 years and I think it will see me out ) From time to time I top it up with vodka (you don't need expensive and fancy varieties of vodka - just make sure it's the real McCoy) and a few pods if you've been using them. When you've taken the "seeds" out of the pod, you can put the pod back in the jar as it retains a lot of flavour and use it when flavouring milk for custards, etc.

Oh, and store your vanilla "farm" in the dark.

Hope that helps.
I cut my beans to fit my jars, and split them to expose the "guts" of the bean. Some seeds and guts come free of the bean, but it doesn't bother me at all. You can always strain the extract before you use it.

I agree that it lasts a long, long time. A pint lasts me at least a couple of years.

BTW, you are not going to find this kind of extract in a store, unless it is licensed to sell liquor, and they sell it as liquor. But, also don't worry about using it in cookies for the kids. It is very strong in flavor, and you use very little.

CD
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Old 08-22-2018, 07:13 PM   #20
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BTW, you are not going to find this kind of extract in a store, unless it is licensed to sell liquor, and they sell it as liquor. But, also don't worry about using it in cookies for the kids. It is very strong in flavor, and you use very little.

CD

Doesn't the alcohol evaporate when baking?
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