Mother Earth Living

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract is extremely simple to make and less expensive than its store-bought counterpart.
By Shauna Sever
January 2013
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When stored in a cool, dark place, vanilla extract will keep for years because of its high alcohol content.
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 Harvested from the pods of beautiful and exotic orchids, vanilla is a delicious flavor enjoyed by people all over the world. Pure Vanilla celebrates its unique taste with a stunning array of recipes, from cakes and cookies to custards and creams. In the following excerpt from Chapter 3 “Cookies and Bars,” discover how easy it is to create your own delicious vanilla extract. For more information on storing and using vanilla, visit Vanilla Facts: Everything You Need to Know.

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Pure Vanilla.

Homemade vanilla extract is one of those glorious things that cause people to marvel at your Martha-esque domestic skills. It’s both terrific party-conversation fodder and an economical way to enjoy copious amounts of pure vanilla extract.

And it couldn’t be simpler. All you need is a clean jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid, whole vanilla beans, and a clear neutral-tasting liquor (vodka is my top choice). For an 8-ounce jar, 2 split beans should do, but you can add more if you like. Let the sealed jar sit in a cool, dark place for about 2 months before using. I also add scraped seedpods to the extract jar after I’ve used them in recipes, unless they land in my container of vanilla sugar first. As you use the extract, top off the jar with more of the same type of liquor for a nearly never-ending supply.

Aside from being a great way to save money on a pricey ingredient, making your own extract is a an excellent opportunity to use some of the more exotic flavors of whole beans in liquid form, since store-bought extracts rarely come in such varieties. Magical! You can also combine several different varieties of vanilla in one batch of extract, creating your own special blends. Few things make a more fabulous edible gift than homemade vanilla extract in a vintage bottle decorated with a darling handmade tag. Martha’s got nuthin’ on you.

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques by Shauna Sever, published by Quirk Books, 2012. Buy this book from our store: Pure Vanilla.

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