vanilla extract

If you had the choice to pay $103.12 or $11.99 for something, which would you pick?

A 20 mL bottle of vanilla extract costs EUR 2.75 at the supermarket.
A 750 mL bottle of vodka costs EUR 9.99.  Three vanilla beans cost EUR 2.00.
750 / 20 = 37.5
I can get 37.5 times as much out of the vodka as I can out of the vanilla extract bottle.
2.75 * 37.5 = 103.125

So really, this is kind of an easy choice.

After seeing this idea on several blogs, like here on Suburbhomestead, I realized that I was throwing a lot of money away on vanilla extract.  It might sound silly, but when some of my recipes call for a whole tablespoon of the stuff – or at least a teaspoon – that means that one of those little bottles is only enough for four or five recipes.  After a little reassurance, I decided I had nothing to lose and a lot of money to save!

All you need is vodka and vanilla beans.  I am using a nicer glass bottle, but only because I have one on hand.  You can just put the vanilla beans directly into the vodka bottle.

The great thing about vanilla beans is that last a really, really long time.  When I get through this entire 750 mL of vodka, I can get another bottle of vodka and just add it.  The beans will continue to work, potentially for years.

I used a razor blade to slice a slit from one end to the other of each bean, to help get the vanilla flavor into the vodka.  The pictures don’t show it, but vanilla beans are soft and have an almost gel-like consistency, kind of like a dried apricot.  A razor blade is a good way to cut into them without mushing them up.

Put the vanilla beans into the bottle…

Fill the bottle with vodka.  It really doesn’t get any easier than this.

The bottle on the left used less than half of the vodka I got for 9.99.  The bottle on the right cost 2.75.  It just makes me laugh.  I feel like such an idiot that I didn’t do this before!

I put mine in my bean pantry.  It should stay in a dark place.  Every day, I’ll take it out and shake it gently.  After about a month, it should be ready to use.

This is what it looks like after about two weeks; it still has another two weeks to go, but it smells absolutely divine!

And it has a lovely amber color too, making it practically decorative!  However, it really is best to keep it in the cupboard.

A teaspoon of vanilla extract in a recipe = a teaspoon of this stuff.  It’s the same damn thing.  Isn’t that awesome?

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