Making Vanilla

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A year ago I read something about making my own vanilla; honestly, I probably saw Martha Stewart baking something and casually mentioning that she makes her own! So after we put away the Christmas decorations in January ’21 I bought some vodka from the local store and ordered Madagascar vanilla beans from Amazon. The process is pretty simple: use about 5-6 beans per 2 cups of vodka, split the bean in half length-wise so that seeds are exposed. Also make sure that the alcohol covers all of the beans. If needed you can cut the beans in half if using a shorter jar. You don’t want any beans above the alcohol line when you seal it up in a Mason jar. Let it sit; the longer it sits the stronger the flavor. That’s pretty much it, just store it in a cool dry place and shake it every once in a while. Occasionally I would open it a little and breathe in the wonderful aroma, which was sooo amazing. I used bottles that I’ve picked up over the year at estate sales and consignment shops, but you can find bottles on Amazon as well. The vanilla that I bottled in the picture sat for a whole year before we bottled it this morning. After taking what I needed, I topped off the vodka and added a few more beans. This way I’ll always more vanilla coming!

You can really go crazy making vanilla because as easy as it is to make, there are a variety of types of beans to choose from with different characteristics. I used Madagascar beans, but there are Tahitian beans, Ugandan beans, New Guinea beans, etc etc. Besides that, you can choose to use vodka or rum or bourbon or pretty much any type of alcohol (the alcohol extracts the oils from the bean). Some vanillas are better for baking, some better for frostings, you name it. We’re even experimenting with a faster method that starts by putting the filled jars in to an InstaPot for 30 minutes, then letting it cool overnight. The recipe says you can use it within 24 hours, but we’re going to let it sit longer to see how it develops.

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