Making Madagascar Vanilla Extract

First things first: this is my first post written on my new computer! Hurray! No more browser freezing when I open more than one tab, no more waiting endlessly for the computer to register what I’ve typed in the search bar, and no more pesky one-finger scrolling! That’s right, friends, I’ve got my hands on a shiny Mac (I mean, literally, it is shiny): thank you, sweet husband, for passing it on to me! Now, on to what I did yesterday, making vanilla extract!

Those of us who bake go through it pretty fast, and it’s not exactly cheap, but making your own can be very economical. All you need are some vanilla beans, vodka (or bourbon), a jar, and some time. There are lots of different types of vanilla beans, but the ones I bought are Madagascar. Yum! To get started, cut a slit down each bean, stopping a half inch or so before the bottom, so the two pieces remain connected. The tiny little black dots you’ll see on your fingers hold all the delicious flavor. Your hands are going to smell awesome for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.

Then put the beans into a jar and cover with one cup of vodka (or bourbon, if you like). My reaction to bourbon (“It tastes like my grandmother!”) always elicits laughter, so I’m sticking to vodka. We actually bought this bottle of Tito’s for vanilla-making purposes (Vodka doesn’t taste like my grandmother, but neither does it really taste like…anything), but I don’t think you have to have a fancy kind. My cousin swears by Tito’s, so I’m hoping I may get some other use out of it as well!

So, your work is done! Seal your jar and keep it in a cool and dark place for about two months. The vanilla won’t ever go bad, and you can keep adding beans and vodka as you deplete your supply. The most fun part is watching the color deepen over time. I just made mine yesterday, and the color has already changed a bit. Give it a shake every now and again, and you’ll see the development in progress. A fun science project for the kitchen types!

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