A lot of commercial “pure” vanilla extracts may contain sugar, corn syrup, caramel or artificial colors as well as stabilizers, and just minimum amounts of low-grade alcohol. To avoid all that stuff and enjoy superior flavor, why not make your own? Here’s how:
- Take 5-6 vanilla pods (or more!), slice lengthwise, exposing the seeds.
- Place pods in a clean jar with an airtight lid. A recycled jar (16 oz.) works well. (You can cut pods in shorter pieces, if too long for the container.)
- Pour in enough vodka to cover the beans – any kind of vodka will do (many liquor stores now carry organic!) – and seal tightly. Put it in a cool place out of sunlight. Each day for a week, shake the jar gently, then shake once a week or so for at least 8 weeks, though many aficionados recommend 3 – 5 months for optimum flavor. That’s it!
You can remove the beans or keep them in the jar, adding more vodka as you start using the extract. The beans will continue to add flavor for up to a year, but the extract will last for years. For a unique gift: pour into smaller bottles with a pod or two. Cheers!