Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract with Rum

Recently, I decided to make homemade vanilla extract.  Because I enjoy baking, I can easily go through about 5-7 bottles of vanilla extract a year.  Each 2 ounce bottle costs about $3 in the grocery store.  When you think about what you're buying and how easy it is to make, the cost of store-bought extract is actually pretty high.  Also store-bought vanilla extract doesn't always provide as much flavor as I would like.  Sometimes I increase the vanilla in my recipes because I just want a deeper flavor profile.  If anything I just said rings true for you, homemade is the way to go.

So how do you go about making vanilla extract?  The process is fairly simple.  I should have done it a long time ago.  All you need is some vanilla beans, a glass container, and some rum/vodka/bourbon.

I actually decided to make homemade vanilla extract because I found a very nicely priced vanilla bean supplier online who had good ratings.  The company (who is not paying me for this and does not know I am writing this) is called Beanilla.  The are predominantly a vanilla bean supplier, though they also sell other products.  Currently, they are having a sale on Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla beans; you can buy a package of ten for $8.95, which, if you've ever looked at buying beans in stores or online you know is a great deal.  They also have free shipping right now for vanilla beans and they have a coupon code SAVE10, which gives you 10% off your order.  When I saw this, I had to order them.

I got my beans in the mail, vacuum packed, within a few days.  And they even slipped me an extra bean (accidentally, I assume), so that I got 11 vanilla beans for $8.05!  When I opened the package the beans were fragrant, moist, and very plump.  They were the highest quality vanilla beans I'd worked with in a long time.  The last time I bought vanilla beans at a grocery store in France, they were rather dried out when I worked with them.

The "recipe" for vanilla extract is very simple.  You just need to take your beans and split them in half.  Using a knife to scrape the seeds (actually called "caviar") from the pods and then add both vanilla seeds and the scraped out pods to a large glass container.  I used a bottle that I bought from Ikea for $3.99 (I'm listing the price here because again, this is far cheaper than anything you can find online).
Now everyone has different ratios that they suggest.  After much reading, I decided that I would use seven vanilla beans (one of which I scraped out the caviar from and used in a cherry compote), and about 4 cups of dark rum.  Many people use a much higher vanilla bean to alcohol ratio, but they also expect their extract to be done in about 6 weeks.  I am fine with letting my extract takes it time to reach maturity.  Also, vanilla beans continue add flavor as long as they are submerged in alcohol, so many people re-use their beans to continue making extract.  I simply started with a more dilute mixture and will wait longer, probably 9 weeks, before testing my solution.  This is what it looks like for now.

One handle of Bicardi Dark Rum (1.75L) cost me $21.39.  I used about half of this, so let's say that was $11.  The 11 pack of vanilla beans cost me $8.05.  I used 7 of them, so that comes to about $5.  The bottle that I bought was $4.  The total cost of making this thus is roughly $20.
That may seem a bit high for now, but again, I can continue to use these beans to make more vanilla extract afterwards.  Also, I used high quality ingredients that will impart far more flavor into my baked goods later on.  I imagine this could also be used to make some pretty amazing mixed drinks.
Hopefully this project turns out well!  I'll give updates as more time passes.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great project to me! Cant wait to try it out! :)