Ice cream? Chocolate doesn’t have a chance. I know that liking vanilla is supposed to be just “plain boring” but I beg to differ. If you’ve ever had a great homemade vanilla bean ice cream, you’ll know there’s nothing boring about it!
Considering how much I use vanilla, it only makes sense to make it myself. It’s quite easy and very cost effective.
It costs ~$10 for the vodka and ~$8 for the vanilla beans. Yes, $18 seems like a lot more up front than just buying the extract in the grocery store but that’s for over 25 ounces. I bought my last store-bought vanilla last year for around $9 per 4 ounces. Homemade extract= $0.72/oz vs. Name-brand extract= $2.25/oz. That’s HUGE savings!!!
750mL Vodka (around 75-80 proof)
~6-8 vanilla beans
-Slice vanilla beans lengthwise through to the middle without cutting through to the entire side. You just want to open it so that the alcohol can access the goodness at the center. You will have vanilla “beans” or seeds floating in your vanilla – don’t worry – they add great flavor so don’t remove them beforehand!!
-Pop them into your vodka container. Shake periodically and let sit in a cool, dark place for at least 3 months until it has become dark and smells delicious.
It’s as easy as that! At least, that’s what I did when I was just making vanilla for myself. Once it was ready, I just refilled my smaller, existing vanilla extract bottle that had a spout for easier pouring. As you fill the smaller bottle that goes in the spice cabinet, you can top off your large vanilla/vodka bottle (with the beans in it) with more vodka. This way you get a constantly replenishing stock! I’ve been making vanilla for a year now and so far the same vanilla beans are still doing the trick. I’m sure that I’ll be replacing them with fresh beans in the next few months or so but they really last a long time!
If you’re looking for a great gift – this is it! This past Christmas, I gave a pre-aged bottle to all the cooks in our family and they loved it. I bought neat bottles from here, washed them and let them dry before filling them with vodka and vanilla beans. Just remember, you want to get them going about 3 months before you give them so your friends and family don’t have to wait forever to get to use your gift.