Dinky Manor

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract Out Of Cheap Vodka

As I have mentioned before, Mr. Foxypants and I are ridiculously adept at getting free alcohol. Since our bar is already fully stocked with top shelf booze, there was no room in the liquor cabinet for the gigantic, half-filled jug of Absolut vodka that someone left behind at our last party.

Usually, I use vodka as a textile cleaner to de-stink vintage garments that cannot be dry cleaned or hand washed, but since we’ve started making our own soy milk, we’ve been going through vanilla extract like crazy.

Seriously, why is vanilla extract so expensive?

I decided to kill two birds with four vanilla pods and use our surplus vodka to make homemade vanilla extract.

To make the vanilla extract I used a sharp knife to make a lengthwise, end to end slit on four vanilla pods. Just about every recipe I found for vanilla extract advised me to scrape the little beans out of the interior of the vanilla pods before dropping them into the vodka, without giving any kind of food science-y reason for this step. Since every high falutin’ brand of vanilla ice cream is flecked with what is advertised as “real vanilla bean,” I decided to skip scraping the pods. If my finished extract comes out full of little vanilla bits, well, it’ll just be that much fancier.

After dropping the slit pods directly into the vodka bottle, I put the bottle in a dark cabinet for two months. Every time I’d open that cabinet door to get something, I’d give the bottle a little shake.

A quick sniff let me know that the vanilla extract was done brewing, because the liquid now smells like vanilla extract as opposed to vanilla infused vodka. The homemade extract is lighter in color than commercial extracts, but the flavor is the same.

I decanted the vodka into a green bottle from St. Peter’s Brewery that Mr. Foxypants has been saving for God knows what reason, added a cork stopper, and slapped on my own paper label.

Although other recipes say that you can reuse the vanilla beans to make more extract, I’m going to use them to infuse some orange marmalade with vanilla flavor instead. The vanilla pods are an expensive ingredient at $1.00 a piece, but for $4.00 I got two pints of really good quality extract. This is much less than I pay for the high end vanilla extract that I typically purchase for $9.88 for an eight ounce bottle. Since I still have two more full bottles of vodka, I’ll just buy new vanilla pods the next time I need to make more extract.

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