Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Pure vanilla extract packs the perfect punch in homemade goodies from cookies to cakes, but it can also pack a punch to your wallet. So why not make your own? It’s pretty easy and the supply list is short. All you need is vodka, vanilla beans, a knife, and possibly some glass jars if you don’t plan on using the vodka bottle.

My husband and I made a batch this past Saturday and I think it took less than five minutes, though it will still need to steep for a bit. All you have to do is figure the amount of vodka and vanilla beans you need. Three beans for every one cup of vodka is a good ratio. Once you've figured how much you’d like to make, slice each bean down the middle, splitting it open to expose the seeds. Then place the beans back into the vodka bottle or into a smaller glass bottle with the vodka. Seal.
Now is the hard part. It takes months for the vanilla to steep. They say at least three months, though six months is best. So place it in a dark cupboard and wait. Give it a good shake occasionally and then place it back in the cupboard. In six months you’ll have the most amazing vanilla extract, and plenty of it. Once it has finished steeping pour the extract through a coffee filter and funnel it into a smaller bottle or multiple bottles (use dark glass jars). Use it in cakes, homemade ice cream, cookies, etc. Homemade vanilla also makes a great gift so maybe decorate a few bottles with ribbon or labels and give them away at Christmas. 
Now don’t throw away those beans just yet! Add more vodka and start the process all over again! Most beans can be used twice. Nice huh? If you plan on making a lot of extract, don’t buy the beans a couple at a time from the grocery store (way too much moolah). Do yourself a favor and buy them in bulk. We bought Bourbon Madagascar beans from a spice seller on Amazon.com for about $11(with free shipping). And my husband picked up the vodka on clearance at Save Mart for $5. So we made six cups of vanilla extract for $16. Compare that to prices in the store where you’ll pay at least $10 for a few ounces and you see, the savings can really add up.
So, there you have it. Homemade vanilla extract is both easy and worth the wait. Enjoy!

*I'll post an updated photo this summer when the extract is done steeping*

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