When it comes to DIY, the kitchen is really my jam over house projects and crafts. Sure, I like a good Pinterest worthy kitchen decorations project, but as my finace can attest to, sometimes my crafts aren’t the greatest when they involve creating things from scratch. Except when it comes to kitchen DIY, now there is something I can totally get behind! I have a fascination with trying to make most kitchen staples from scratch, or at least give it a good shot. Sometimes, making staples from scratch is too time consuming to do all the time (like bread or pasta), but other times, making an even better version of something you are using all the time already is so easy (like this!). I think the biggest key to making the best vanilla extract is finding your taste preference for the alcohol that is used. I made the mistake one of the first times I made extract to use the cheapest bourbon I could find, please don’t be like me and do that. My recommendation would be to use the second cheapest version of the alcohol you end up using in your extract. You don’t need to get the top of the line booze, but remember, you will be pouring this into your cookies and cakes, so you better like how it tastes.
I have to admit, I didn’t start making my own vanilla extract until semi-recently, like within the past couple of years. I always thought that you had to make a batch, let it sit for a million months, and THEN you could use it in your favorite cookies. But, once I read Joy The Baker‘s first cookbook and her way to make vanilla extract at home, my mind was changed! In the first part of her cookbook, she explains a lot of the basics of baking, different types of flours, etc. Joy also touches on how she makes her own vanilla extract at home. Simply put, cut a few vanilla beans in half, scrape out the seeds (aka the nectar of the Gods), drop the vanilla beans and seeds into a small jar, fill with alcohol..BOOM. Done and done. Once I found out vanilla extract could be made as you needed it, I was so on board this train. Once you make the homemade stuff, I promise you won’t ever go back to the regular.
Now, if you are making vanilla extract as a gift, I would recommend letting the mixture sit for a few months, shaking every few weeks or so until it is gifted. But, if you want to fill batch by batch at home, trust me, it totally works. If you are getting a Christmas gift from me and like to bake, you can rest assured this will be under the tree for you.
You don’t really need a recipe for this, just fill a small jar or bottle with vodka, whiskey, rum, or bourbon, drop in a few vanilla beans that have been scraped (along with the stuff you scraped out of the inside), shake and enjoy! The longer you let the extract sit, the better it is going to taste, so I would say to let the initial mixture sit for a few days before using. Also, I don’t ever take out any of the old pods in my mixture. It sounds gross, but leaving those lovely vanilla beans in there just draws every bit of flavor out of them. If they start to get slimy though, it’s time to ditch them and start fresh. Enjoy!
P.S. If you ever want something featured on the Kitchen DIY series, let me know. I think it’s going to start becoming a thing around here!