Friday i finished my first batch of homemade pure vanilla extract! i have yet to bake with it, but i'm really looking forward to it. especially since it is definitely gluten free, which i'm always looking for.
i followed Laura's tutorial here on Heavenly Homemakers, for making your own vanilla at home. it's so easy! the only thing it takes is time. 6 months actually. but don't let that scare you away from trying it! considering it ended up costing me about $1.12 per ounce to make (not counting the cost of the glass bottles), that's a whole lot better than pure vanilla from the store which if i remember correctly i paid about $3 for a 1 oz bottle. and this stuff is of a much better quality than that.
so if you want all the details on how to make your own vanilla, head over and read Heavenly Homemakers (not to mention that she has a link for buying great vanilla beans, along with a discount code for 10% off through the end of this year).
i'll just give you a quick run down of what i did.
6 months ago, i bought a bunch of vanilla beans and split them down the middle (long way) and stuffed them inside 1 qt canning jar. then i filled the jar with vodka (the cheapest kind i could find) and screwed the lid on tight.
I labeled the date (note to self: do not use clear tape and black marker to label jar when making homemade vanilla, as it results in a nearly unreadable tag that you will hold at funny angles and squint like an hold lady in order to try and decipher what was printed across it) then i stuck it on a shelf in my storage room and ignored it for a month at a time, when i would give it a bit of a shake and put it back in it's dark hiding spot.
after 6 months i pulled it back to my kitchen and ran it through a coffee filter to catch all the little beans floating around in it.
to store it i used amber bottles from Specialty Bottle, filling two 4 ounce bottles and nine 2 ounce bottles.
after filtering out my vanilla from the beans, i thought i would try following the advice of someone who commented on the vanilla tutorial, and try reusing my beans with 1/2 the amount of vodka.
so i snipped them in half and put them all in a 1/2 qt jar, topped it off and stuck it back in it's dark hiding spot.
this time i took my advice to myself and used blue painters tape instead of clear tape. hooray for being able to read the label on the jar!
lot's of loverly vanilla from my own kitchen! a couple large bottles for my own use and several little ones to give to loved ones. :)
so if you are looking for an easy way to cut some costs long term in the kitchen, you might give this a try. i couldn't be happier with mine and will be doing this a couple times a year for the foreseeable future.