How to Make Vanilla Extract

If you like to bake, then you know vanilla extract is one of your best friends in the kitchen. It goes into just about everything because its subtle flavor and aroma enhances whatever it is paired with. Which brings me to wonder: why is vanilla extract available in such small bottles at the store? Sure, it is fairly expensive (a single vanilla bean costs on average $5.00) and most recipes call for only a teaspoon or so. But when my kitchen is pumping out cakes, cookies, breads, pies, ice cream, and other assorted confections (and that’s not even counting what I make for others!), constantly running out and then having to go to the store for more becomes a chore. So I finally decided to do some research and as it turns out, making vanilla extract at home is incredibly easy, and much more cost effective in the long run. All you need are a few vanilla beans, vodka, and a bottle… then presto!

3 vanilla beans
1 cup vodka
Glass bottle (or jar) with a tight fitting lid

1. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla beans lengthwise.
2. Depending on size of bottle, or amount of vanilla beans being used, place the split beans in the bottle, and add 1 cup of vodka for every 3 beans.
3. Store bottle at room temperature in a dark spot away from sunlight, shaking occasionally, until vodka has turned brown, at least 3 weeks.
4. Wasn’t that easy? Now go bake!

* The longer the beans steep in the vodka, the more flavorful the extract will be.
* When a recipe calls for vanilla seeds, save the pod and put it into the bottle.
* Bourbon can be used instead of vodka if you prefer a little extra kick.
* Top off the bottle with more vodka as you use the vanilla extract. The beans will continue to flavor the vodka indefinitely.

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