Learn how easy it is to make homemade vanilla extract in this post.
Learning how to make homemade vanilla extract is really quite simple, and I’m going to let you in on how easy it is! Yes, most extracts contain alcohol and though I’ve seen alcohol-free versions, I haven’t been stoked about using glycerine as the solvent.
Considering I use these extracts in small quantities, I don’t have a personal objection to the alcohol content but as always, your paleo is up to you alone to dictate. And certainly if you have to avoid alcohol 100%, then it’s possible to make extracts using glycerine instead. In this post, I’ll show you how to make homemade vanilla extract (and mint and lemon extracts) using the same basic method.
How Do You Make Homemade Vanilla Extract?
You’ll need some sort of alcohol to help extract the organic (carbon-based) compounds that actually make the scents and flavors from the chosen plant material—in this case, vanilla beans, lemon rinds and mint leaves. Did you know that when you smell something, what you’re really sensing are tiny organic molecules that diffuse through the air, attach themselves to the olfactory receptors of the nose and send nerve impulses to your brain?
Through experience and learning, you’ve come to associate these molecules with the foods that emit these “smells.” For example, vanillin is one of the predominant carbon-based compounds that makes the scent you know as vanilla. And while it can be synthesized by a series of chemical reactions in a lab, I think you’ll agree that getting it from a natural source is always better.
Small organic compounds like vanillin are chemically compatible with alcohol, meaning they’re soluble in it. When you make a homemade extract, you’re taking advantage of that fact. SCIENCE! For best results, remember to steep your extracts for at least 4 weeks before you use them and keep the plant material completely submerged so nothing molds.
How to Use Homemade Vanilla Extract
I chose vodka for this recipe but you can use something like bourbon for the homemade vanilla extract, which tends to pair really well. Use these extracts in any application you’d use store-bought extracts. How about using a dash of homemade vanilla extract in my Apple Coconut Pudding or the mint in my Dark Chocolate Mint Coconut Butter Cups?
My favorite reason for making homemade extracts is that I know exactly what’s in them. So many of the store-bought extracts contain added sugar or other funky chemical ingredients. These also make fantastic gifts!
Is Vodka Gluten-Free?
One note: If you must eat gluten-free, check to be sure the type of vodka you buy is gluten-free. Many are not. I look for vodka made from organic grapes which is a little more expensive but worth it if you can’t have even trace amounts of gluten in your diet.
How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
Learn how to make delicious homemade vanilla extract using just a few simple ingredients! No more store-bought. See how easy it is!
- 1 cup vodka or bourbon
- 6 whole vanilla beans
- 8 oz glass jar with lid
Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla beans down the middle, lengthwise.
Add the beans to the jar.
Fill the jar with 1 cup of vodka and cap tightly.
Let the extract steep for at least 4 weeks for best results. Shake daily.
Hint: If the level of the vodka drops gradually as you use it, add more for a continuous supply of extract.
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