DIY vanilla extract

Vanilla

I adore vanilla. I especially love fresh vanilla, straight up from the pod – the scent is so intoxicating.

Conveniently, I was left with a 1 lb bag of vanilla beans when I left my shop in Canmore. I am talking over 100 of the most deliciously soft, fresh, wildcrafted, raw, whole vanilla beans, from Ultimate Superfoods. Obviously, I made room in my suitcase for them and I am fortunate to be using them in all my favorite sweet treats.

Vanilla is not really a bean, it is the fruit of an orchid (fun fact to share with friends…many don’t know this!). Historically it has been used as an aphrodisiac or to treat fevers. Currently it is almost always used for its delicious flavor or aromatherapy.

Sadly, the vast majority (like 97%) of vanilla used is made synthetic chemicals…ew. Not to mention the taste pales in comparison to the real deal. If you have the luxury, buy whole, fresh beans. I know they are expensive, in fact they are the second most expensive spice (next to saffron), because they are the worlds most labour intensive agricultural crop.

I have intended on making my own vanilla extract for ages, and when I found my favorite honey booze at the local liquor store, I got the sweetest of ideas.

Ron Miel (honey rum) is a sweet sipping liquor my hunny and I discovered one spectacular day in the Canary Islands years ago. We have always had a soft spot for it, even though it is really quite sweet for my tastebuds now. It is nearly impossible to find outside of Europe, but thankfully this recipe can easily be made with any booze (40% alcohol is recommended (Ron Miel is only 20% so it is a bit of an experiment on my end). Vodka, rum, or bourbon are often used, or even combined to make vanilla extract.

Why do you want to bother making your own vanilla extract? Well for one you can control what goes in; artificial vanilla extract is just a bunch of chemicals…remember? Second, you will actually save yourself some moo-lah this way. Third, you can customize it to your boozy delight as I am doing. So bust out the booze, it’s vanilla makin’ time!

DIY Vanilla Extract

What you need:

  • 12 vanilla beans
  • 1 x 26 oz of booze (vodka, rum, bourbon…Ron Miel?) 40% alcohol recommended

Carefully take a sharp knife and start at the bottom of a vanilla bean, gently slice along one side of your bean until you reach about a cm from the top. Open up the delicious bean, inhale…melt, then stick it in your booze (either the bottle it came in, or use a jar – just chop the beans if they are too long for a jar). Repeat 11 more times with 11 more beans.

Let sit for 2 months, shaking the bottle (or jar) occasionally. Then use for all your favorite vanilla requiring recipes. As you used it up, add more booze, more beans and you will never be without the most delicious, real, vanilla extract.

Enjoy this one my friends…I sure am!

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