Monday, June 4, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I was inspired to make my own vanilla extract after seeing this Barefoot Contessa recipe while browsing to cook or bake Ina's recipes for the event, Cook like a Star for May 2012. Essentially, all required is to soak 12 vanilla beans in a bottle of vodka and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for at least a month. Isn't this amazing? As Ina Garten always says "How Easy Is That?

I would like to thank everyone for participating Cook like a Star with the theme, Barefoot Contessa for the month, May 2012. To conclude, there are a total of 33 entries for this blog hop and I hope everyone has lots of fun cooking and baking like Ina Garten. The next blog hop will be held in July 2012 and the star of the month is Jamie Oliver. To join, all you have to do is to cook or bake any of Jamie Oliver's recipes. His recipes can be from his cookbooks, magazine, app or websites and simply do a blog hop with me on the whole month of July 2012. For more details of this event, please see this

Back to the making of my own vanilla extract... As I was googling and shopping around for more information about vanilla beans and homemade vanilla extract. I came to know that there are two varieties of vanilla beans commonly used for cooking and baking and there are: 

Madagascar variety
Grown on the islands of Reunion and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, these vanilla beans have a very rich full-bodied woody flavour. They are the most frequently used beans because of their versatility and they are most commonly used to flavour ice cream, baked goods, chocolate and other sweets.

Tahitian variety
Native grown in Oceania, a cluster of islands in the Pacific Ocean, these vanilla beans are considered relatively rare and much more delicate than the Madagascan beans. These beans have light floral overtones and work optimally in dessert that don't require intense heat to prepare. For this reason, they are highly recommended to be used with delicate or fruit-based desserts, such as ice creams and custard.

The good new for me is I have managed to buy both kinds of these vanilla beans! *HAPPY* The Barefoot Contessa recipe sounds really easy and achievable for me but having a BIG bottle of vanilla extract with 12 vanilla extract seems to be too much for me. So, I've decided to use the recipe mostly adapted from Joy the Baker for my smaller consumption and more versatility.

I simply love observing the progress of  "extracting" these vanilla beans. It feels like watching "a child growing". I have taken lots of photo for all my observations and hope you will appreciate the transitions of these extraction as much as I do.
homemade vanilla extract
Here are my two bottles of homemade vanilla extract.
The vanilla beans that I've bought
This was what I did...
Then wait...
Finally after 2 months, both extracts are really to use.
Here's my recipe mostly adapted from Joy the Baker

Basically, I have made two types of vanilla extract:

One jar is filled with vodka and Madagascar vanilla beans.
The other jar is filled with rum and Tahitian vanilla beans.

These are the things that I need to make my vanilla extract:

Two good-sealing jars (1 cup capacity each)
Alcohol (vodka or rum)
Three vanilla beans per cup of alcohol
A dark spot to store the jars.
Two months at least - to achieve a optimal extract!

Use a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down the center of the vanilla beans, leaving about an inch at the top of the vanilla bean uncut.

Put the vanilla beans in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Cover the beans completely with alcohol.  Ideally, there should be 3 or more vanilla beans per cup of alcohol.

Tightly cover the jar and give it a good shake. Store in a cool dry place for two months. Give the bottle a good shake every week. By the end of two months, the extract will be ready for use.

Although the vanilla extract using vodka seems to be lighter at first but it got really darken after two months of extraction. Due to the sugar content in rum, the rum extract tends to look thicker and richer in flavours but I think both extracts are special with their own unique characters. The Madagascar one is more woody while the Tahitian one smells so sweet with nice floral tones. I can't wait to use these for my future bakes...

Additional tips: 

If the extract is running low, top it off with more liquor (preferably of the same type) and shake again. 

Every once in a while, I would continue to feed the extract by replacing the older beans with new beans if extract seems to get diluted and I will use the older beans to make vanilla sugar. 

The extract can sit at room temperature indefinitely... imagine keeping this extract "alive" for the next 10, 20 or 50 years! LOL!

Have fun extracting!

56 comments:

  1. Hi Zoe, nice vanilla extract. I made my own vanilla extract too, never like the store brought artificial essence.

    But rum is still the best. I'm harvesting the coffee liqueur soon using rum, coffee and vanilla. Will share the recipe when it's ready.

    Have a nice day.

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  2. Hi Zoe,
    Thanks for dropping by. I enjoy very much, joining the 'cook like a star with Ina'
    Like I mention in my blog, she is new to me. Its good for me to get to know new celebrities chef from blog hopping with you guys. Thanks so much for hosting.

    Wow!! Your have such awesome homemade vanilla extract. Was wondering what is the different between those sale in baking shop and homemade.
    It's a pity we can't buy vanilla beans here in Sarawak. But I heard from Vivian, that we can buy online from a website. Those vanilla beans have different grades and its planted in Indonesia if i am not mistaken. Seeing yours look so awesome, I like to make my own homemade vanilla extract too..wait till I go hunt some vanilla beans first...lol
    Have a nice week ahead..:)

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    1. mui mui,

      I'm actually very impressed with this extraction and find there is not much difference between a good quality store bought extract and my homemade one. Both smell equally really good! However, I do see the difference between the concentrated store bought ones because they are much more thicker in its viscosity.

      Buying vanilla beans online can be quite a challenge because I'm afraid that they will pass the quarantine check at the custom. I wonder if the quarantine check in Sarawak is as strict as Australia?

      Zoe

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    2. Hi Zoe,
      I have just got my vanilla pods last week. It is actually from a vendor from KL who import from Indonesia. It is already being check by the custom so there will not be a problem to come in to Sarawak. In Sarawak it is not as strict as in Australia.
      I am excited to start of to do my own vanilla extract. By the way other then vodka and rum, can i use brandy?

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    3. Hurray!

      Not too sure about brandy... Personally, I think brandy might be a bit strong in flavours and prefer not to use it as it might mask the vanilla flavours.

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  3. This is great! Thanx Zoe for sharing. Will try soon.
    Have a nice day!
    Anuja

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  4. I haven't wanted to make homemade vanilla for the longest time! I need to get right on it! Thanks for reminding me with your lovely vanilla:)

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  5. I did not realise it was possible :D
    Thank you for sharing this, it seems much more flavoursome than store bought :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  6. Brilliant idea, Zoe! I've been wanting to make my own vanilla extract for quite awhile now! Thanks for sharing these recipes! And it's been great fun for me to join in the Cook Like A Star blog hop with you all. Have a lovely day, Zoe! :)

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  7. Wow, I love this idea and your experiment with the different types of alcohol and vanilla beans! I'm going to have to try this, would make nice gifts too :)

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  8. Zoe, this is a great idea!! thanks for sharing.

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  9. that looks like a cool project to do- making your own extract.. and it looks simple enough too!

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  10. Never thought of homemade vanilla extract,definitely worth to try.

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  11. Interesting and useful post!Thank you for sharing,dear!Have a lovely week!

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  12. Oh that sounds really good. I would love to make my own vanilla extract. I'll have to try this soon, thanks!

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  13. 哇!你真厉害这个也会做。
    谢谢分享,有机会我也要试一试。

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  14. This is great! I use SO much vanilla extract - so lovely to be able to make your own - bookmarked!!
    Mary x

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  15. Zoe, your vanilla extract looks fantastic..please ship some over!

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  16. Homemade vanilla extract is one of those things I've always wanted to make but haven't yet. It looks fairly easy and I bet it's AWESOME!

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  17. Ha ! I've been wanting to make this extract for quiet sometime but I all have is only a 1L bottle , no vodka and no beans yet ! :P lol Maybe you could pour some of that over here ?! hee hee Those vanilla extracts look so gorgeous !

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  18. at first i was wondering that packaging seems so familiar..now i remember .. the spice shop! it's good to make our own vanilla extract, they make great gifts too!

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    1. Lena, you are right! These are from the spice shop. Remember that I was asking you to smell the differences of these vanilla beans?

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  19. Wow, I love it! You are inspiring!!! I just found your blog, I like it because i was seeking for such type of info.
    I hope it benefits all one who land up here.
    Thanks for sharing!!
    http://all4payday.com

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  20. Wow! Thanks for sharing this Zoe! I've long been wanting to make vanilla extract. This will really be helpful!

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  21. What a fun project; I am inpressed.
    Rita

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  22. Very nice! I've never made my own vanilla extract, but knew it was possible. Excellent photos and instructions! This looks like a fun project, and it's pretty straightforward and easy to do. thanks for this.

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  23. Oh Zoe, this is great, I never thought of making my own vanilla extract but this is fantastic! I will be giving this a go without a doubt! x

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  24. I've been wanting to make vanilla extract for a long time but have never gotten round to it. I use a lot of it so it would make sense to make my own! Great post :)

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  25. Oh I've never seen anyone make it with rum before..that's interesting! I can only imagine how fragrant the extract would be if you left it for 10, 20 or so years!

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  26. wow, very interesting.. i had no clue how to make this, but now it makes sense, beans and alcohol. delicious!

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  27. Zoe, it's so good to visit your blog becoz there is always a new discovery for me! This homemade vanilla extract is a good give away gift, don't you agree?

    And I like you mentioned that one can keep the vanilla extract up to 10 or 20 years, sounds like keeping a bottle of good red wine & hey, after 30 years,may be you can pass on to your son/his wife!

    I came to know about fresh vanilla beans when watching last season of Poh's Kitchen. It was said that the vanilla beans are picked when they are still green & have to wait for months to become mature! Sometimes in between, the growers have to "massage" each bean! No wonder vanilla bean is not cheap to buy!

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    1. I'm thinking of passing on these extract to my grandchildren if I have any... LOL!

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  28. Glad you've discovered how to make your own extract. I've been making these for a long time and have never thought of making a post out of it. Duh. Do you know, it costs an arm and a leg (well, maybe a slight exaggeration there but you get the idea) to get a bottle of pure extract from the stores over here? Making it at home seems the logical and smart way to go ... and so easy!

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    1. Yeh...you are right. Never know that making these extract is so easy until I made these. Saving $$$? Baking is never cheap :P

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  29. Zoe, this is amazing. I never knew that we can make this ourselves. Do you keep this at room temperature in the fridge ?

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    1. You can store them at room temperature. Alcohol are natural preservative and so these extract don't have to be stored in the fridge.

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  30. Hi Zoe, Your homemade vanilla extract with madagascar and tahitian vanilla pods sounds wonderful! I have made my own vanilla extract using vanilla pods bought from Bali and I used rum, you are right even though the smell is incredibly nice, I prefer the store-bought vanilla extract over homemade! I still have about 2 bottles, sometimes I use them together with store-bought ones. The Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla pods would be much more flavourful, they are incredibly expensive, so it is not economical to make these at home! Budget! budget! :)

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  31. Wow how cool is that,homemade vanilla extract,welldone,this is wort to try !!

    Ridwan

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  32. Oh wow.. Zoe! This is FANTASTIC!! I've always wondered how vanilla extracts are made. Thanks for sharing with us your kitchen experiment, I liked how you've made two batches to compare beans and taste. Thanks also for dropping by my blog because now I can find you too! Got so much great recipes going on look forward to reading more in the future! =D

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  33. Zoe, so interesting the different vanilla extracts...now I look forward to the recipes to follow :)
    Hope you are having a fantastic week!

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  34. Wow! I love it, Zoe! These extracts looks amazing, I can only imagine the fragrance. I love the fragrance of vanilla extract, but I bet homemade is 100x better. Thank you for sharing!

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  35. Hi Zoe, can I check with you if we need to scrap out the beans in the pod when we slit it lengthwise? Can we make the extract using the bottle of the vodka itself? Coz I always see ppl using other small bottles ... haven't buy any small bottles yet (: Ty!

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    1. Yes for both questions.

      You need to cut the pod lengthwise so that you scrap out most of the beans from the pod.

      And of course, you can make the extract using the bottle of vodka itself. I choose not to do that because the vodka or rum bottle itself has too narrow neck for me to put in or remove any vanilla pods. After the extraction, I actually transfer out the extract into smaller bottles using a funnel for more convenient use during my baking.

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  36. What a fun experiment for the kitchen! It doesn't even seem hard (unless you lack patience.) Cool!

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  37. They look great! I've made it with vodka, I'll have to try rum next.

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  38. Zoe! Thank you for this fabulous tutorial! With as much baking and dessert making that I do, I really need to start making my own extract...I go through it so quickly! I would never have thought to soak the vanilla beans in rum. Other than the thickness, did you think there was a big difference in the 'vanillaness' of the flavor? I'm so excited to try this! : )

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    1. I wouldn't think there is much difference in term of the vanilla flavours comparing both the homemade and the store bought ones. Both has a nice vanilla fragrance.

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  39. I love this idea of vanilla extrac Zoe I will try!!

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  40. thats pretty awesome, I never thought about making my own extract before. I'm ready to go buy some jars and try this out. thanks!

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  41. Great post! This is something I've been wanting to do for a while now. Thanks!

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  42. Awesome post Zoe. I am going to try this. It looks so simple, but yet not something I would have thought about doing till I saw this post. I love "how to" posts like these. You should do a "how to" video post on how to knead dough. Maybe?? I would totally love it!

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  43. Hi,

    Can u advise where u bought ur vanilla pods? Thks!

    Susanna,
    Perth

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  44. Hi Susanna,

    I bought my vanilla pods from this spice shop at Lygon Street, carlton, Victoria. The shop name is Gewurzhaus, you may wish to visit their website, http://www.gewurzhaus.com.au for more details.

    Zoe

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  45. Hi Zoe, guess what? I just stored my first 2 bottles of vanilla extract. Bought a large bottle of rum and also additional vanilla pods (Indonesian variety which is the only type available here) along with the one u gave me. Can't wait for the 2 months ;)

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    1. Hi Mich,

      Nice to know that you are attempting to make your own vanilla extract.
      I was excited when I made mine... the only con for this is the time that we have to wait for the extraction to take place... However, watching the extraction taking place can be quite therapeutic too. So, have fun waiting and shaking the bottles :D

      Zoe

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