Making vanilla extract is surprisingly simple. All you need is some alcohol, vanilla beans, and some patience.
This is a great gift idea for the holidays, or really any time of the year! The vanilla beans get steeped in alcohol for a few weeks to extract the vanilla flavor. That's it! You can use vodka, bourbon, rum, really any alcohol. The different types of alcohol used will give the extract a slightly different flavor, so you can have fun and experiment with different alcohols.
I bought my vanilla beans in bulk, along with a big box of 4 oz. bottles to store them in. They make the perfect gifting size! I'll post some links below for the beans and bottles!
You can find varying quality of vanilla beans out there. Grade A beans are the best, and are what you want to use when cooking with the vanilla beans (like ice cream, or roasted balsamic strawberries). Grade B beans aren't as plump and oily. They're stiff and dry, and perfect for making extract.
I made the mistake of using really cheap vodka the first time I made vanilla. Trust me on this one, you want to get good quality vodka. It doesn't have to be the best, just not the crappy kind. It affects the quality of the extract since it is mostly vodka after all.
Here are the (affiliate) links if you plan to make lots of vanilla!
- 4 oz vodka
- 3 vanilla beans