I have been using my own vanilla extract which I made in June and by the 8th week it was ready for using. Yes, the label on it is confusing. That’s because growing up we used vanilla essence as it was widely available in stores. So, for the longest time I’ve called it essence even though for the past 3 years I have been using extract. Making it a habit to start calling it by it’s true name.
What’s the difference between extract and essence?
- Made from real vanilla beans and alcohol like vodka. Rum or brandy can be used as well.
- More expensive
- Stronger and fuller vanilla flavour
- Synthetic (chemically produced)
Where I’m at, you can’t easily get vanilla extract in general grocery stores. It’s available at American and British online stores or at a high-end store called Globus. What is common is vanillin zucker (vanilla sugar) which does not give the same taste as using vanilla extract. There is also vanilla-butter flavouring which I find awesome for my soft chocolate chip cookies. Lastly, there’s of course vanilla beans and vanilla bean paste easily available. Except for vanilla sugar, I use all the above for various recipes.
So, after finishing a small bottle of vanilla extract (50ml) that cost me about CHF 16, I decided to use my googling powers and learnt how to make my own vanilla extract. All you need is a clean bottle, vanilla beans and vodka. I used a 750ml bottle of vodka and about 15-18 vanilla beans. According to the kitchn, use 3 to 5 vanilla beans per 8 ounces (240 ml/1 cup) of alcohol and multiply accordingly if making more extract. You can add more vanilla beans of course.
Is it cheaper? Depends. The cost of vanilla beans vary depending on the quality and where it comes from. The one’s I get are CHF 2.30 for 3 beans. A bottle of vodka (750ml) cost’s me CHF 17. So, for me it’s cheaper compared to getting it from the high-end store. Plus, it’s really fun to see it change colour. It also makes a perfect gift for fellow home bakers.
And because I made my homemade vanilla extract before I started this blog, I did not bother to take photo’s of the stages of it and I just have a final product. The next time I make it, I will be sure to update this post.
- 3-5 Vanilla Beans
- 1 cup (240 ml / 8oz) Vodka
- Prepare a clean bottle (preferably with a flip-top) by washing it and drying it properly.
- Slit vanilla beans into half lengthwise. You can also chop it up to fit a small bottle.
- Pour in vodka.
- Close the bottle.
- Store in a cool and dark place (your cupboard). Give it a little shake every now and then.
- After 8 weeks, your vanilla extract is ready to use. You can leave the vanilla beans in the bottle or you can strain it out. I left mine in so it get’s stronger with time. Plus, why waste the beans? It does look nicer when you can see the beans in it too.
- After scraping vanilla beans for other recipes, throw in the bean into the extract.
- To have clear vanilla extract, simply strain it with a coffee filter.
- You can use brandy or rum instead of vodka. Vodka is commonly used because it does not have a strong taste.
- Conversion Table
- Make your own peppermint extract too at the same time!
Enjoy using your homemade vanilla extract with your homemade goodies!