One of the best and simplest things I've ever done is make my own vanilla extract.
Bourbon vanilla, at that.
I used to buy it at Trader Joe's and really liked what it did for our ice cream, so that's the kind I wanted to make.
Using homemade vanilla extract, our raw Jersey ice cream (and many other dishes) are out of this world. Like 500 times better. Perhaps that is an exaggeration. But the point is, homemade vanilla offers much more flavor. Here's an example of what it can do.
I had some frozen Jersey cream (a bit freezer burned), back in May, I think. I made ice cream, using vanilla extract from Trader Joe's. Nobody liked it, no doubt because of the freezer burn.
What's wrong with the ice cream, Mom?
I had more frozen cream (a bit freezer burned). I made ice cream in late July, using my bourbon vanilla extract. The ice cream was amazing.
Mom, what did you do to the ice cream? Its soooooo good. Did you get fresh cream?
See what I mean? The awesome, homemade bourbon vanilla extract was so good, it masked mild freezer burn.
Here's how to make it. It couldn't be simpler. I used this recipe to guide me in making up 1/2 gallon.
Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract
- 32 vanilla beans
- 1/2 gallon vodka or bourbon at least 70 proof
Split the vanilla beans in half, lengthwise.
Scrape out the seeds.
Put the seeds and beans in a clean 1/2 gallon jar and pour in vodka or bourbon.
Cover the jar, then shake it gently.
Put the jar in a dark cupboard.
Shake it up every few days.
Start using it after a few weeks, though after 8 weeks it will be good and dark. Use anywhere you would use normal vanilla extract.
Continue adding vanilla beans and vodka bourbon for an endless supply of vanilla -- 4 vanilla beans for every cup of bourbon.
But Vanilla Beans Are So Expensive!
Because people often balk at the price of vanilla beans, I want to mention that even though they are so expensive, you can save quite a bit by making extract yourself as I show you here.
Yes, vanilla beans are expensive. But 32 of them and a 1/2 gallon of vodka or bourbon is still less when you consider you can pay up to $20 over and over again for tiny little bottles of organic vanilla extract.
So the math DOES add up even if you have to make an initial investment in the vanilla beans!
Using The Homemade Vanilla Extract
This would make wonderful gifts, wouldn't it — small, pretty glass jars for all your lovely people?
Have you made homemade vanilla extract? What did you think?
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