I began my "experiment" after being quite disgusted at the cost of vanilla extract from my supermarket - £6 per bottle! The bottle of maturing/brewing/steeping (whatever you choose to call it) vanilla extract has been sitting in the corner of my kitchen getting darker over time. I gave the bottle a little shake every so often, and now, six months later, it's ready to use in my recipes for breads, cakes and muffins. And it smells sooo nice, so vanillaey.
Tonight I poured some of the extract through a sieve into a jug, then poured it into a cleaned and de-labelled bottle that was previously filled with expensive Nielsen-Massey vanilla. So what about the rest of the vanilla in the larger bottle? I topped it up with more vodka to mature until my little bottle needs refilling. How long can I keep topping it up for before the vanilla pods lose their "vanilliness"? I don't know! I suppose when the colour stops getting darker. It's an experiment, right?
ct'?" Good question, Lauren! The answer in short, is yes, there is a difference. According to bakingmad.com, "Whilst often cheaper, essences or flavourings are a chemically developed flavouring and can often give a synthetic taste to your baking. Extracts are flavours 'extracted' straight from the source, for example vanilla extract would be taken from the vanilla bean, capturing the delicious and distinctive, rich flavour." So while essences may be cheaper, they are made from synthetic chemicals!
I'd love to know if you feel inspired to make your own vanilla extract, or if you've already made your own, too!