I really, really like vanilla! In my opinion, it is an ingredient that should always be on hand. But I don’t buy vanilla that is artificially flavored or has added sweetener, and I strongly dislike the price of the pure extract.
Several years ago, I made my own and was very pleased with the results. I made one gallon worth and it lasted us over a year … closer to two. And it only costs me about $75 to make that gallon. Since then, the price of vanilla beans has increased but it is still cheaper to make your own than to have to purchase it. And it is a very simple process!
So today you are invited to visit my kitchen and tag along while I show you how to make healthy homemade vanilla!
Step 1: Gather your supplies:
Approximately 80 vanilla beans
1 gallon of liquor (vodka, rum, bourbon)
Glass jars, equaling one gallon
Scissors or knife
I purchase the vanilla beans from Olive Nation. You can buy 1 pound (approx. 100 beans) for $119.95 (free shipping!). If you do not want to make a whole gallon, they sell the beans in smaller quantities. You may also find them on Amazon.com for a comparable price.
The first time I made vanilla, I used vodka. This second time, I used white rum. It’s my understanding that white rum produces an extract with a milder alcohol flavor – we’ll see in a couple months! I have also heard of using vegetable glycerin for a non-alcoholic variation (although chemically speaking, glycerin is also an alcohol!) but I have not done it.
The supplies: vanilla beans, rum, scissors and jars.
Snip the ends off the vanilla beans. This helps release the “paste” that is in them. Then using scissors, slice the beans in half except for about an inch or so on the end.
Put the beans in the jars. The rule of thumb is 5 beans for 8oz. So if you’re using a one-gallon jar, put all 80 in it. If you’re using quarts, put 20 in. I used some pint jars too, so they need 10 beans. Note: if you’re using pints, you’ll have to chop the beans in half to make them fit in the jars.
I love the look of vanilla beans stuffed into jars! And the smell! It’s wonderful!
Pour the liquor into the jars and fill them to the rim, covering the beans.
Shake the jars really well and then put them in a dark place. They will need to sit for at least 2 months; the longer it sits, the stronger it gets! It’s good to shake the jars about once a week or so during the brewing process.
And there you have it! After 2-3 months, you can strain the vanilla into small dark jars. Or you can leave it in the brewing jars like I did last time! It’s now ready to use. I like to include it in all my baked goods, chai smoothies, Mexican hot chocolate … you name it! Happy vanilla-ing!