After going through two full bottles of vanilla extract for my holiday baking projects, I decided that perhaps it was time to look into something I've been meaning to do for a long time…make my own vanilla extract. I knew it was easy, but really never realized just how easy it is.
First, you buy a bottle of good quality vodka and make yourself and a friend a martini. (Note: this step does nothing to enhance the extract, but does leave room in the bottle to add the vanilla beans, as well as providing incentive to start the project in the first place.) Next, slice open three to four plump, vanilla bean pods (I prefer Tahitian beans,) scrape them and add the seeds and the pods to the bottle. Tightly reseal the bottle and place in a cool dark place for at least three months. Every week or so, give the bottle a little swirl and when the color is a nice, rich brown and the flavor is intense, it’s ready to go.
Before you use it, you can either strain the extract through a coffee filter, or, just leave the beans and seeds in there to let the flavor continue to intensify. When the bottle starts to run low, you can simply replenish it with some fresh pods and more alcohol, let that sit for a week or so, and then keep on using it. Talk about economical!
As I'm wont to do, I of course got thinking about what other flavorings might make for good extracts. I think that playing around with different types of alcohol, such as brandy, scotch or tequila, could bring interesting tones to things. As for flavorings, I'm thinking of experimenting with orange peel, mint leaves, coffee beans, cocoa nibs and cinnamon sticks as well as more hearty, savory flavors like rosemary, kaffir lime leaves, ginger and chili peppers.
Once I started to research homemade extracts, I found a number of great online resources which not only provided ideas for extract flavors, but also offered some new ways to incorporate them into food and beverages. Some flavor ideas that intrigued me include dried cherries, cloves, almonds (which I'd like to try toasted and raw), pine needles, lavender and rose petals. The possibilities are truly endless.
As for what to do with these extracts? Baking is the obvious option, but they are also great for cocktails (either on their own as the base, or as an addition with other alcohols), flavoring ice creams, enhancing vinaigrettes, marinades or sauces.
I'll have to update this post once I've mastered a few different flavors, but for now, I highly recommend you start saving money right away, and brew up your own batch of vanilla extract.
Featured Culinary Schools
- Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
- Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
- Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
- Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
- Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
- Flexible Scheduling
- Financial Aid
- Transferable Credits
- Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
- Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
- Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
- Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
- Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
- Flexible Scheduling
- Financial Aid
- Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
- Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
- Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
- Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
- Online Courses