Friday, November 26, 2010

Vanilla, Mint & The Extract Experiment

Hi Everyone,

For those of us who celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S., I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday filled with love, family, friends, delicious food and a lot to be thankful for. And for my friends around the world, I wish you all the same and a joyous holiday season ahead.

Today's post is simple and short, but something I'm really excited to share. All of us bakers, often or occasional, know how quickly we can go through vanilla extract, so when I came across the recipe for vanilla extract quite some time ago and saw how easy it was, I knew it was something I'd definitely get around to making.

Because I also use a lot of mint in homemade ice cream, I thought I'd give that one a try, too.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

You only need two ingredients:

Vanilla Beans, 3-4, split down the middle
1 Cup Vodka

And patience for one month.

For the mint, I used a handful. (But wait, we'll talk about this version in a minute.)

Simply fill a clean jar with 1 cup vodka and 3-4 vanilla beans split down the middle. Cover tightly, shake well and store in a cool dark place. You'll keep the jar stored in a cool, dark place for 1 month, continuing to give the jar a hearty shake once or twice a week...

After one month, you'll be left with an all natural, old-fashioned, full-bodied delicious vanilla that will easily take the place of anything you could buy in the store. I just can't stress enough how much I LOVE this vanilla. I've already made a second jar in preparation for the holiday season. Only this time, I mixed Tahitian and Bourbon Madagascar beans, where the first time I only used Tahitian.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the mint extract. The principle is the same; Store in a cool, dark place, shake, wait a month...
After a week the mint started to turn brown and the vodka took on notes of the dying herb (imagine cut flowers that have been left to die in a vase). Curious, I tasted it and it is very minty, but stale nonetheless. Alas, that extract will be thrown out.

My grandmother said this homemade vanilla ice cream reminds her of her childhood. I'd say that's a ringing endorsement for making your own extract.


  1. Ree, these look fantastic! x gloria

  2. This sounds a very intersting idea, I have made a note of it. Diane

  3. I have been meaning to make vanilla extract for awhile now. With all the beans (and vodka) I have on hand, I have no excuse not to!! Thanks for the simple steps. and Happy Thanksgiving!!

  4. I'm with Daisy, this is totally on my list of things to make for a while now and am not sure why I haven't! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. wow, you take "homemade" to the next level - looks great!

  6. Awesome job, Ree! That vanilla looks amazing :D I wonder why that happened w/ the mint? Seems like the vodka would prevent that, doesn't it? Hmmm. Well, cheers to you for trying ;) Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!

  7. I just ordered a whole bunch of vanilla beans for holiday baking - can't wait to try this! It would make great gifts too!

  8. Ree, I love your homemade extract! I have to get some vanilla beans to try.
    I wish you a lovely and warm weekend!(here is FREEZING!)

  9. This looks so easy and yet I've never thought to make my own extract. Thanks for sharing!

  10. You are one hell of an experimenter Ree..Hats off..this is professional. Well..are ya ? :)

  11. Oh that's just so cool. Never done it before, but I am definitely gonna try it. Couldn't be easier!

  12. Vanilla beans are so expensive and difficult to find here,otherwise I would love to give this a try.

  13. Definitely making my own vanilla extract in the near future!!! Always wanted, too. Sucks that the mint experiment didnt work out so well. Have you tried with different citrus' peels as well??


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