Has anyone ever tasted vanilla extract? You can tell the difference between the imitation and the pure by taste in a recipe. The drawback to imitation is a less intense vanilla flavor and the pure has nice tones of vanilla come through the recipe.

Vanilla extract is important to many recipes. The use of pure vanilla extract can make a difference in how your cake, cookies or pancakes may taste. Unfortunately, pure vanilla extract can be expensive for a small bottle and if you cook often it can certainly add up to more money than you want to spend.

I have learned how to make my own pure vanilla extract. There are different types of vanilla extract based on the type of vanilla bean and the type of liquor used in the process. It is reasonable and larger quantities are easy to create since the normal purchase size is a couple of ounces. Normally I will use a 12-to 20-ounce bottle for the extract.

Items needed to begin the process:
Full size vanilla beans
Glass bottle with rubber seal
Vodka (or other liquor)

I located a good vendor online (OliveNation) to purchase different types and quantities of vanilla beans. (It depends on what type of vanilla you are making: i.e. Madagascar, bourbon, etc.) I usually order 20-30 vanilla beans so I can make multiple bottles.

A 16-ounce bottle with a rubber seal requires six full size vanilla beans. Keep in mind it does take approximately 6 months for the vanilla to be complete and at its purest state.

Split the vanilla beans down the center making certain not to cut them all the way through. Put them into the bottle. Pour the vodka (any vodka can be used, better vodka will result in better extract) until the bottle is almost full. Seal tightly and store in a room temperature dark area. Also, make sure you shake the bottle every few weeks to mix up the vanilla beans that sink to the bottom, this just helps keep the flavors mixed together better. Watch for the next 6 months as the liquid will transform into a beautiful dark brown color for the perfect pure vanilla extract for a fraction of the cost. They also make great gifts.

Check back next week as I discuss making your own orange and lemon extracts. It is great to find new ways to create good products and save money on everyday items.

Please share your comments and tips below. Let’s learn from each other.