Extracting the essence of vanilla beans

Well not entirely what it is, the essence isn't as good as the extract from vanilla beans. Really I'm talking about making vanilla extract.

Well not entirely what it is, the essence isn’t as good as the extracting from vanilla beans. Really I’m talking about making vanilla extract.

Buying good quality vanilla extract is expensive. It is a vital part of any bakers kitchen, but you have to wonder why it costs so much.

Recently I discovered how much easier and cheaper it is to make your own.

Making your own Vanilla Extract, not to be confused with the essence

Have you ever wondered what it was actually made from? I know I hadn’t. I didn’t think I had a choice about the price. Who knew you could make your own.

I discovered you could when I first came across this video by Pure Living for Life.

I was blown away. It seems so easy. Vodka and vanilla beans. You know the first thing I did was start searching for Grade B vanilla beans.

Making sure it was right

One thing I have learned is that there is always more than one way to do something, so I decided to look at some more videos.

Here is one from Cupcake Jemma. She is always handy to watch.

Then as I was looking around I found another video from someone new who I have now subscribed to as well, SuburbanHomesteaderWY.

It was interesting looking at them all and seeing what they did. Really they are all very similar.

So I had a go at making my own Vanilla Extract

I found some vanilla beans, grade B, but they were Tahitian ones grown in Papua New Guinea. Most people use other ones, I can’t remember what they were now, but I haven’t been able to find them so far. Well, ones that wouldn’t cost an arm and leg to get.

I bought a couple of bottles of vodka, the cheapest ones I could find. They were $34 for 700ml. Then I hunted around to find some bottles. I found some 500ml bottles from Ikea for under $2 each. Bargain I thought.

It took ages for the bottles to arrive. When they did, I had the vodka and beans so it was time to get going. I put 10 beans in each half litre. Each bottle holds two cups of vodka, so that seemed right.

I don’t know how long I will wait before I try it, but I am going to use what vanilla I have in my cupboard first.

Well not entirely what it is, the essence isn't as good as the extract from vanilla beans. Really I'm talking about making vanilla extract.

Pricing the extracting of the vanilla beans

The beans cost me $32 for the two packs of 10 beans and then with a bottle and a bit it was around $45 for the vodka. That comes out to $77 for one litre of vanilla extract, not to be confused with vanilla essence. So one litre is 1000ml, whereas one 50ml bottle of good extract would cost me $15 or thereabouts. So when I worked it out it costs me $3.85 for 50ml. That is a massive saving.

I didn’t include the price of the bottles, as they can be used again for other things.

As long it lasts for a while. I do go through a bit, so I imagine it won’t last a long time. Time will tell if it was worth it.

Have you made your own at all?

Well not entirely what it is, the essence isn't as good as the extract from vanilla beans. Really I'm talking about making vanilla extract.

Extracting the essence of vanilla beans

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  1. I always make my own vanilla extract and everyone in the family looks forward to that little holiday gift! It’s one of those things that is really easy to do, economical, and makes everyone feel special!

    1. I thought about making it for others, but I think I’ve left it too late now. Maybe for next Christmas.
      It is so incredibly easy, I was rather shocked. What vanilla beans do you use Dorothy?

    2. One day when I was at King Arthur Baking, they had a large sample of all their vanilla extracts so you could sample the aroma of each one. By far, the Tahitian was the one I liked best, although they were all pretty delicious smelling!

    3. Oh wow, what a great opportunity, I wish they had something like that here. I am happy to hear you liked the Tahitian ones the best, makes me feel better. Thank you for sharing that.

  2. Many years ago I made my own vanilla using vodka. It was good, but I didn’t like having to wait so long. Vanilla has skyrocketed in price over the past couple of years but most recipes only call for 1-2 teaspoons, so I splurge and buy it at the store.

    1. I figured I use enough that it would be worth making my own, I don’t mind the wait, means it gives me time to use what I have now. I will probably make more in a few months, so it will give me a long supply, if that makes sense. Thank you Lois.

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