I love vanilla. I use it in so many things, in baking, in porridge, in drinks. I just love it.
Sadly, it can be pretty pricey stuff, and in the UK we only ever seem to get those little tiny bottles of extract, and I would go through those far too quickly. For a while I was super happy to find big bottles of vanilla extract in Costco, but for some reason or other they seem to have disappeared recently, so I went investigating how to make my own.
It turns out, vanilla extract is stupidly easy to make. Take some high grade vanilla beans bought cheaply on eBay, a bottle of bog standard vodka, slit the beans, stick them in the vodka, shake every so often and wait.
In fact, the waiting is the hardest part.
I started this batch back in late September I think, and initially added 12 vanilla beans to 700ml of vodka. I waited and waited for that beautiful deep rich amber colour, but it didn’t seem to be darkening up much so last week I whacked in another 4 beans and it now seems to be on it’s way. It smells heavenly already, and the best thing about this is that the longer you leave it, the stronger and richer it gets. And when you start running low, just top up with more vodka!
I think this would make a such a lovely gift, and that is exactly my plan. All I need to do is find a pretty little bottle to decant the extract in to, push a couple of vanilla beans inside for continued flavour and added prettiness, and tie a ribbon around it. Perfect for Christmas!