Featured Ingredient: Homemade Vanilla Extract
With a blog paying homage to the muffin tin, obviously vanilla extract is going to show up in recipes with regular occurrence. Vanilla adds a warm, luxurious scent to baked goods. But top quality vanilla extract that does not contain any added sweeteners and artificial junk can be pricey. Thankfully, as I have recently learned, it’s surprisingly very easy to make your own with just two ingredients: vanilla beans and booze. Plus, a little bit of patience.
You’ll want to start with good quality vanilla beans. There are some good websites (or try ebay) selling them in bulk for reasonable prices. You can either use vodka or rum, with the latter often being the preferred choice of many in the food blog world. I used Havana Club that I picked up on a recent bike trip to Cuba.
Once you have used some of the extract, say 20 to 30 percent, you can top it up with more alcohol and, if desired, more vanilla beans to keep the supply going almost indefinitely. Any spent vanilla beans used in a recipe such as poached fruit can be added to the brew provided they have been washed.
DIY Vanilla Extract
3 vanilla beans
1 cup rum or vodka
Thoroughly was a glass jar or bottle. Split vanilla beans along its length and then slice each in half. Place vanilla beans in the glass jar and pour in the alcohol. Seal the jar with an airtight fitting lid, shake it a bit and leave for 2 months in a cool, dark place. You probably should shake the jar occasionally, but I tended to forget this step. The longer it stands the more aromatic and flavorful the extract will become.