Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Sarah: Homemade Vanilla January 7, 2013

I even reuse my vanilla beans if they haven't lost their potency by refilling the container with vodka when I've used up the first batch.

I even reuse my vanilla beans if they haven’t lost their potency by refilling the container with vodka when I’ve used up the first batch.

Yes, I know.  Deprocessed December is officially over.  But…well…I got all caught up in the holiday busyness of family, friends, cooking, wrapping, baking, church-going, candlelighting, decorating, and I didn’t get to finish putting up some of my favorite recipes!

I’m working on a few more to post.  Consider these the New Year Bonus Recipes.  Today’s?  One that would have been quite useful for all that Christmas baking.

Really, really delicious, authentic vanilla extract is expensive…unless you go to Mexico.  Mexican vanilla is awesome and cheap.  Except that it’s not because traveling to Mexico is pretty pricey.

So unless you have friends who regularly go to Mexico and will pack their suitcases with large bottles of Mexican vanilla to smuggle back for you, here’s the way you make it at home.

Mexican Vanilla

vodka (yes…it can be cheap vodka, too…don’t go for the pricey stuff)
3-4 vanilla beans (find at the bulk foods store or co-op–the more beans you use, the stronger it will be)
a pinch of cumin (yes, cumin)

  1. Fill an old container (I save my maple syrup bottles and use them) with vodka.
  2. Stick the vanilla beans in and add just a pinch of cumin.
  3. Leave it in the back of your cupboard for a month or two before pulling it out.  The longer it sits, the darker and more delicious it will be.
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2 Responses to “Sarah: Homemade Vanilla”

  1. Jeanie Says:

    How do you know if the beans have lost their potency?

    • Good question, Jeanie! If the vanilla isn’t turning as dark or strong as usual, I just replace with new beans…or add another bean or two and then use fresh beans on the next batch.


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