Friday, January 13, 2017

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I have a confession: I'm a bit of a kitchen snob.  Surprising?? Uh, not really.  I've always enjoyed cooking, baking and watching cooking shows.  And just like my kids pretend to be their favourite cartoon characters, I somewhat pretend I'm a fancy-shmancy cook using fancy-shmancy ingredients, like amazing Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract. I've been treating myself to the real shebang for a few years now, but then about a year or so ago, I saw how to make homemade vanilla extract on Pinterest. (Love Pinterest!)

At Sainsbury's, a 118ml bottle of Nielsen-Massey sells for £6.  This seems a little expensive... but totally worth it.  However, in my "how can I do better?" mentality, I thought this would be the time to give making my own homemade vanilla extract a go.  

If you take a look at the ingredients, you find that you're paying for water, ethanol (which is alcohol), sugar... sugar, really?!?! and vanilla bean extract.  Hold on, I thought that's what we were making in the first place, so does this mean that it's diluted?  I don't know, so I'm hoping my homemade vanilla extract will be superior to even the fancy-shmancy Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract made from only two ingredients: vanilla pods and vodka.

I bought a 70cl bottle of vodka from Aldi for £9.99, 4 vanilla beans from Sainsbury's for £6 (I needed 5, but already had one at home) and a bottle to store the extract in from IKEA for a £1. This adds up to £16.99; HOWEVER, I only used 12oz/ 350ml of the vodka (1/2 of the bottle), so really, the vodka I used cost £5, so £12 for the recipe.  Now, if I pay £6 for 118ml, I save about £6 by making my own. I'll try to do better next time by finding vanilla pods for a better price, perhaps online, but I don't want to compromise on the quality.  Plus, I won't have to purchase another bottle to make it in (I can even make it in the original vodka bottle next time).

This is the "recipe" I used from Cooking Light.

I sliced open 5 vanilla pods, then put them in the storage bottle. There's something very satisfying about carefully slicing open a vanilla pod. I then added 350ml of vodka, closed the lid and put it on my shelf to carefully brew/steep for the next 4 months.

I'm very excited to see the results in 4 months! I'll let you know how it turned out.

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