Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vermont is good at growing a lot of things.  Spices aren’t among them.  When my friend Jessie came back from Madagascar with beautiful whole vanilla pods, I decided to do a few experiments.  After some online research, I decided to start by making two vanilla extracts – one with rum, one with vodka.  Extracts are infusions: you soak your item of choice in alcohol to give it flavor.

I started by finding two small glass bottles, a sharp knife, my vanilla pods, rum, and vodka.  I chose 80 proof alcohols so that everything would be well preserved.  I chose white rum (rather than spiced rum) so that I could really find out what spicy flavors my vanilla pods added.

Using a sharp knife, I slit the vanilla pod open from tip to tip.  This would expose the flavorful inner flesh and seeds to the alcohol right away.  I then put the pods in my glass bottles, filled one to the top with vodka, filled one to the top with rum, and labeled each one accordingly.  And then I waited….

And waited…

Nearly three months later, they smell and taste like vanilla and have a beautiful warm brown color!  The alcohol flavor is still strong as well – that will cook off if you use these extracts in cooking or baking.  The vodka will leave only vanilla flavor, the rum will lend a bit of it’s own flavor to the dish along with a vanilla-y one.  Next time, I think I might try adding even more beans to see if I can get a really concentrated extract.  I’ll also be interested to see how they both age through the winter.  Thanks Jessie!

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5 Responses to Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. Evan says:

    Mmmm, can’t wait to try these out!

  2. Funny, I did exactly the same two combinations, I end up using the vodka version much, much more, and the rhum one mostly for cocktails, when I make them. It’s such a great way to do it, and I was lucky enough to have a friend bring me some fresh vanilla from his tree in la Réunion. I wonder if it would have different tastes (I’m sure it would) with different types of vanillas. To explore.

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