Ever wonder why you pay obscene amounts of money for vanilla extract? You could say "yes" b/c the product you purchase is so damn good its worth it. Well, Im here to tell you... It all about the bean, baby!
Have a good vanilla bean, you can make even better extract. Now, the bean itself is still pricey. Why? Vanilla beans are grown from orchids and take up to 11 years per bean to fully develop. To top it off, the majority of the world's vanilla beans come from Madagascar. BUT if your lucky you can get Tahitian, Mexican, or Indian Vanilla beans ;) And if your REALLY lucky, fresh vanilla beans are simply heavenly. Fresh being plump, moist vanilla beans, not the dried beans found most commonly.
So how to make extract...you will be amazed at its simplicity. Oh, I am so excited to tell you! Vodka and vanilla beans! I use a flip-top bottle, so the beans will go in but will never come out.
To start, find the right bottle you want to use. Place 3-4 beans in the bottle and fill to the top with vodka. Place bottle in a dark place to sit for 6 months to a year (depending on the bottle size). Once the color darkens, the extract is ready! When you start to run low on extract (you can see Im getting there ) just refill with vodka. It doesnt have to sit untouched like the first time. Over the years, it just gets better!
And talk about gifts!!! Bakers will love to receive homemade vanilla extract :) Try Beanilla for a variety of beans and bottles.