I go through a lot of vanilla extract in my kitchen and, while I do have a favorite brand, it isn’t the only brand that I use. In fact, sometimes the vanilla extract that I use is Baking Bites brand – meaning that I make it myself at home! Vanilla extract is made by extracting the vanilla flavor, produced by a compound called vanillin, from vanilla beans with an alcohol solution. With a bottle of vodka and a bunch of fresh vanilla beans, you can make your own vanilla at home! I’m sharing my technique on the Craftsy blog (it’s free!) so that you can learn to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract yourself with relative ease.
Making vanilla extract requires some patience, because the solution needs time to pull the flavors out of the beans. It is important that you use high quality vanilla beans that are fresh and plump, especially if you want your extract to develop quickly. I’ve made extract using older, slightly dried out beans (storing your beans in an airtight container will prevent them from drying out), but it takes a bit longer to develop the same degree of vanilla flavor. Once you’ve made your extract, you can use it as you would any other vanilla in baking. You can also bottle it up and give it as a holiday gift to friends and family!