Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer Bucket List: DIY Vanilla Extract

Another project for our most recent BFF day was to start a batch of vanilla extract. Robin, of Our Semi-Organic Life, prompted my interest in doing this and to be honest, before I read her first post about it I had no idea that vanilla extract is just vanilla beans soaked in alcohol.  Did you know that?

Have I been living under a rock?

Bonnie had been thinking about the same thing after seeing some posts on Pinterest where people were making cute bottles for theirs and going them out as gifts:

So we decided to tackle this - it seems (still) too easy to work, but the internets has never been wrong before, right?

We'll see.

All you need to make the extract are some whole vanilla beans and a bottle of vodka.  The ratio of beans to vodka is where the confusion starts.  When I started doing research to determine how much alcohol we'd need, I found that every website had a different ratio, and when I finally settled on one ratio that I saw more than once (2 beans for every 12 ounces of alcohol), Dave and I headed to the liquor store to pick up some vodka.

The problem?  Every bottle of vodka was measured/labeled in milliliters instead of ounces.  Wop wop.  So I was the nerd in the liquor store looked up a measurement conversion calculator on my phone, blocking half the aisle.  The verdict:  750 mL = ~24 ounces.  Perfect!

We got our vanilla beans from Penzeys in Carytown - 3 beans for $9.35, and they come in this awesome test tube:
Yes, I'm on Facebook at work :)

We also picked up 4 amber bottles from Elwood Thompson's to hold our vanilla once it's ready!

Cost breakdown:
  • $12.47 for 4 vanilla beans
  • $5.84 for 4 amber bottles
  • $15 for a 24oz./750mL bottle of Smirnoff
  • Total: $33.31 or $1.39 per ounce
That's pretty awesome compared to what we pay at the grocery store for a 2oz. bottle!  Penzeys sells 8oz. for $21.39!

We sliced the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and just dropped them in the bottle:

Within minutes we could already see specks of vanilla floating around!

And here's how it looks on day 7:

I'm going to shake it up every few days, and smell it after 30 to see if it's already starting to smell like vanilla extract - for now it still smells more like vodka than vanilla :)!  After 90 days it should be ready to strain and bottle! FUN!

1 comment: