Make-It-Yourself Vanilla Extract

I like to bake so I use a lot of vanilla extract. My favorite extract is sold by Penzeys Spices and they offer both single and double strength as well as vanilla beans and sugar. However, I found that I could make a decent and economical vanilla extract myself.

As usual, the quality of the ingredients determines the quality of the end result – in this case extract. I use Madagascar beans and good quality rum such as Appleton, a smooth and rich Jamaican brand I discovered years ago. I find that the rum flavor works well with the vanilla naturally – they sort of melt right into each other. And the alcohol burns right out so don’t worry about your cookies and baked goods containing alcohol. I think some people use vodka and having tried that I think the rum is better. However, do not use spiced rum unless you want a strong, spicy rum flavor.

I use a smallish glass jar (4 oz., ½ cup size) with one bean. Simply split open the bean, scrape out the insides (these are seeds) and add to the jar. I throw in the leftover bean “skin” too. Then fill the bottle with rum, seal the lid tight and give it a good shake. Allow to sit and soak for at least 24 hours. Anytime I walk by it within that first 24 hours I’ll give it a little shake. Then use at will – ‘cause you’ve got extract people!

The ‘ingredients’: vanilla bean and rum plus a sharp knife, cutting board and glass jar.

Snip the end of the bean and split it right up the center.

The ‘innards’ of the bean – these are the seeds and are the most flavorful part of the vanilla bean.

The vanilla bean seeds get their closeup…at least it smells really great!

Place the seeds and the leftover bean skin in the jar, and…

…pour the rum in.

Close the lid tightly and skake it up, baby!

After a day of soaking up the vanilla bean flavor, you will have extract. Use at will! I never strain it either as I love seeing the tiny seeds in my baked goods, custards and homemade ice cream.


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