In these trying times purchasing baking ingredients to sustain your sweet tooth/hobby can add up. Many of us have more time than funds these days so it can be fun to discover the art producing things we take for granted. This is the heart of what DIY culture is all about. It's fascinating to create, learn and save some dough in the process.
Lately I took that approach to vanilla extract and was able to create a vanilla extract that was comparable to high end extract for slightly more than half the cost.
To do this first you'll need to obtain a proper vessel. The little 5 oz. bottles that hot sauce comes in is perfect for home brewed vanilla extract. Transfer the hot sauce to a small pyrex container and thoroughly wash the glass bottle a couple times to wash away all the hot sauce remnants.
Soak the bottle in a bowl of water overnight and remove the label the next day. Set this bottle aside and get ready to brew! Take a vanilla bean, place it on a cutting board and using the tip of a sharp knife, cut down the pod length-wise. Then split the pod open and scrape out the black paste with the sharp edge of the knife. Set both the pod and the paste aside.
Pour yourself a half cup of vodka and warm it up in the microwave or in a pot until it's very warm but not scalding hot. Don't worry, most of this alcohol gets burned off during the baking process and is not noticeable in your finished baked product. Commercial vanilla extracts also use grain alcohol or glycerin. Alcohol-based products have vastly superior shelf life compared to their glycerin-based counterparts.
Pour the warm vodka into the glass bottle, add the pod and paste, screw the cap on tight and give it a good shake. Let the vanilla pod and paste steep in the vodka mixture for about two weeks, shaking daily.
After two weeks, transfer the vanilla extract to a small bowl while filtering it with a coffee filter or layered cheesecloth to remove the vanilla pod particles. Discard the vanilla particles and using a funnel, transfer the clear vanilla extract back to the bottle.
Your vanilla extract is done and will provide you with sleek, sultry vanilla flavor for months. It will keep for up to one year.
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