Back in November I wrote about whether vanilla extract was fructose-free or not. In that post, I mentioned that I make my own vanilla.
There are tons of tutorials on this on the internet, but since I had to start a new bottle I figured I’d show you how I do it.
This is especially useful information if you are a corn-intolerant person, because in my previous post I learned that many vodka’s are made with corn, not potatos. The argument could be made that the corn in a bottle of vodka shouldn’t cause any problems in a corn-intolerant person.
The argument could be made that children should have NO reactions to elemental formula, either. But my son DID. To TWO OF THEM.
So I’m taking no chances with something as simple to fix as what kind of vodka I use in my homemade vanilla extract.
I’ve read that people use different types of liquor for their vanilla extract: rum, bourbon, etc. I stick with vodka. It’s basically flavorless, and I want the vanilla to stand out.
SO. Head to your nearest liquor store and ask them for a bottle of potato based vodka. I had looked online for the best potato vodka before I went, and so I was all prepared to come home with a bottle of Monopolowa, which is an Austrian vodka made of potatos. It ranked as one of the best potato vodka’s out there. (But still cheap!)
My local liquor store, however, doesn’t carry Monopolowa. The man asked me why I requested that particular bottle, and when I told him I needed a potato based vodka he recommended another brand that they DID carry. I double checked online and saw that it was, in fact, potato based, so that’s what I got. Vikingfjord vodka from Norway.
You’ll also need to get some vanilla beans. My local health food co-op helpfully carries vanilla beans that I can buy individually, but lots of people buy theirs online. Because I haven’t had to buy my vanilla beans online, I can’t recommend any particular website for purchasing them. Try to find plain vanilla beans, and if you’re dealing with Fructose Malabsorption, try to find them NOT packed in sugar.
When you’ve got your two ingredients home, it’s a simple process.
Take your vanilla beans and, using a sharp knife, slice through ONE side of the bean lengthwise. This opens up the bean so the vanilla inside is exposed, but the bean is still intact. (This is easier than it sounds.)
Then pour out (or drink, if you can) about a shot’s worth of vodka from the bottle. Start sticking your sliced vanilla beans into the bottle.
I ended up with about 17 vanilla beans in my bottle, because I had them and why not? I didn’t have anything else to use them for! You’d only truly need about 10 beans for a regular sized bottle of vodka, though.
After you’ve put your beans in your vodka, store it in a cool, dark place. Shake it every day for a week or two, then every week from then on out. After about 3 months, it’s done!
I may come back and update with a picture after it is done, but I might forget.
You can clearly see, though, how quickly it starts turning into a beautiful vanilla extract shade.
When it has infused long enough (I usually smell it – if it smells more vanilla than vodka, it’s done), simply pour the vanilla through a filter (to catch any sediment) into a glass bottle for storage.
Once you’ve started using your vanilla extract, you can buy another bottle of vodka and just keep pouring more vodka into the bottle with the vanilla beans as you use it up. Eventually you’ll notice it taking longer and longer to turn into vanilla; that’s when you know it is time for new beans.
I used my beans for almost a year, the last time I made vanilla. Sadly, I was using corn-based vodka and so I couldn’t keep it going for longer to see how much use I could actually get out of those beans.
It really does taste delicious, and it is actually cheaper (by far!) than buying the ‘good’ vanilla extract in the store.
The bottle of vodka is 750 mL. A good quality vanilla is sold in 4 oz bottles. Doing the math, that means the vodka will equal to 25.3 oz. (minus whatever you removed in order to fit the beans in the bottle). For the sake of argument, say you only removed one ounce. So 24.3 oz. of vanilla from this bottle.
The total cost for this bottle of vanilla ‘should’ be $26.50. I spent $15.00 on the vodka, and using the correct amount of beans (ten) would have cost me $11.50. (I used more, but again, it wasn’t necessary.)
So per ounce, the homemade is $1.09 per ounce.
The store bought is $2.06 per ounce.
If you bake a lot, that is some SERIOUS savings!
Even using the large quantity of vanilla beans that I did brings it up to a whopping $1.47 per ounce – which is still a huge savings.
So it’s worth it for taste, and worth it for money to make your own vanilla – not to mention worth it for avoiding CORN!
It also makes an excellent gift; any true baker would really appreciate this in their kitchen!
I hope you try this; if you do, let me know how it turns out for you! Have you ever made your own vanilla extract before?
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