If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you already know that I’m an egg snob. I should also probably confess that I am a vanilla extract snob as well (okay, and maple syrup – but that is a post for March 2013). Imitation Vanilla Extract contains lignin, a byproduct of the paper industry, and can also contain high fructose corn syrup, coumarin, and artificial color.
As someone who bakes often, I purchase and use plenty of Pure Vanilla Bean Extract. I’ve always wanted to make my own, but never got around to it – until recently.
The vanilla bean extract will deepen and become more potent with time. Allow your bottles to rest in a dark, cool place for 2-3 months before using (give them an occasional swirl to incorporate the beans and vodka).
If you’ve never worked with real vanilla beans, then you’re missing out! When they arrived in the mail, I could smell them before I even opened the package. Once they were out of the sealed plastic, I wanted to wrap myself in the incredible scent. Colin walked into the kitchen, his nose sniffing the air, “What’s the good smell, Mommy?” I invited him to taste the tiny black specks inside of the pod and to touch the bumpy vanilla bean. He ran to get Owen so that he wouldn’t miss out!
I didn’t take time to calculate the numbers, but I know that I saved money by making my own vanilla bean extract (purchase vanilla beans in bulk to save money!), compared with buying it from the grocery store (did you know that the pure vanilla bean extract at the grocery store often contains water!). Next time, the savings will be even greater because I will be able to reuse the bottles that I purchased this time around.
It’s not too late to make homemade vanilla bean extract for your homemade holiday gifts or stocking stuffers. Simply include a note on your bottle specifying how to care for it and when it can be used.