There are lessons I have learned since I’ve started blogging about food. Let me share a few with you:
1. Some people cook and eat cicadas (as in: gross little creatures with multiple legs) and can still somehow manage to make their photos look gourmet.
2. Just looking at food blog photos makes my stomach rumble no matter what time of day it is and no matter how long it has been since my last candy binge.
3. Call me close-minded if you must, but I feel there are some “foods” that are just better left alone.
4. There are foods that are “big things” at any given moment and pop up everywhere, i.e: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, doughnuts, macarons (yes, I mean macaRON, not macaROON), cupcakes involving salted caramel, and vanilla extract to name a current few.
5. Things that are new to me are not always new to the rest of the world.
Number 5 is not any big revelation to me. I know this is the case with most people and their discovery of new knowledge. I feel as if I have missed the boat on this one though.
“This one” being home-made vanilla extract. I first saw the recipe around a month ago at Annie’s Eats and about fell over from a cocktail of emotions competing in my head:
“What?! You can make your own vanilla extract?? I didn’t know you could do that! Wow! Think of all the money I can save!”
“What??!! You can make your own vanilla extract?? Grrr! Think of all the money I could have been saving!!!”
How had I been duped for so long? Where did I think vanilla extract came from? I guess I thought in an illogical sort of way that it was somehow squeezed from the vanilla bean.
I actually remember a mental dialogue I had with myself a few months back regarding almond extract. The same sort of questions were running through my head – how could you possibly squeeze liquid out of an almond and not have it be insanely expensive to produce? I mean really insanely expensive – not the expensive that it already is. I played with the idea a little bit and then did what I do with most things I don’t understand – made a mental note to do some research to find my answer. . . and promptly forgot about it.
Then appeared the vanilla extract post on Annie’s Eats and the jigsaw puzzle started to fall together.
Nothing is squeezed from anywhere. It’s amazingly simple. Vanilla beans steep in cheap booze. That’s it. Let me highlight some benefits of making your own vanilla extract:
Word on the (blog)street is that it tastes much better than the over-priced store-bought variety. I’m eagerly anticipating my first trial.
It’s cost-effective. For around $35 – which includes the cheap vodka (with leftovers), way too many vanilla beans, and the fancy-schmancy bottles – I made three super-cute, unique gifts and enough vanilla extract to last me almost a year.
It’s an exercise in self-confidence as you avoid judgemental stare-downs in the liquor store while you shop for 4 liters of vodka with your toddler.
Ok, really you don’t need 4 liters for this, but I was buying in bulk for other Christmas gifts as well.
Here’s how you can make your own. Don’t be intimidated – it’s SO EASY!
I ordered my Vanilla beans from vanillaproductsusa.com.
Vanilla Extract ( takes about 2 months to steep – so leave a note with your gift if it’s not ready yet!)
Three Vanilla Beans per 8 oz cheap vodka.
Split vanilla beans by slicing them open (the long way) down the middle.
Put them in a jar. Pour vodka over the beans. Seal tightly, store them in a cool, dark place for about two months. Be sure to shake them every now and then.