Confession. I buy cheap vanilla. You know, the 99¢ imitation bottle? Yeah. Not cool, or so I’ve heard. I simply haven’t been able to talk myself into shelling out the cash for the real stuff. There can’t be that much difference, right?
Okay, so I know there’s a big difference, and considering I likely pour in 3 times the amount of vanilla I should (who needs a measuring spoon?!), I may not be saving all that much to begin with.
What’s a girl to do when she wants the good stuff but doesn’t want to pay for it? She makes her own homemade vanilla extract! Spurred on by my friends Laura and Lynn, I recently gathered the ingredients: cheap vodka and not-so-cheap Vanilla Beans.
According to Laura’s calculations, I need about 40 beans for my bottle of vodka. I purchased 54 beans, so my plan is to head back to the liquor store and get a smaller bottle to use up the rest of the beans.
Using the easiest parts of both vanilla-making methods (because I’m lazy like that), I sliced all but the top inch of my beans and simply tossed them in the bottle of vodka. I poured out a bit of the liquid so it wouldn’t overflow (poured it in another small bottle that I’ll add a couple beans to), capped the bottle, dated it, and stuck it in a kitchen cabinet to “brew” for 6 months.
Hopefully I’ll remember to give it a shake every once in a while when I open the cabinet for vinegar or oil. In six months, voila! I should have high quality, two-ingredient, real vanilla extract.
I paid about $22 for my Vanilla Beans and $12 for the vodka. I probably need another $6-8 bottle of vodka to finish off my beans. So, about $40 will be spent on this little experiment, and should net me 3/4 of a gallon, or so. This better be some tasty vanilla! I do know that I’ll use a lot less of the good, strong stuff than I do my cheap imitation bottle. Maybe it will all even out?
What do you think? Worth it? Do you pay good money for quality vanilla? Have you ever made your own?