Talking about vanilla. Do you know the difference between vanilla essence and vanilla extract? I am sure those who are not into baking may not know the difference. Well I never favor commercial vanilla essence. The fragrance is too strong to my liking and smells like perfume to me. Very fake! Moreover I believe, commercial vanilla essence is sweetened too. So, prior to my decision to DIY my own homemade vanilla extract, I either omitted the use of vanilla in my baking or if I needed it, I only use premium quality commercial vanilla extract. There is quite a big difference between vanilla extract and vanilla essence.
So, what is the difference between vanilla extract and vanilla essence/flavor? Vanilla extract is produced by soaking the vanilla pods or beans in a mixture of alcohol base like vodka and/or water. Whereas for vanilla essence, it is chemically produced and often give a synthetic taste to your baking. Vanilla essence is much much cheaper than the natural vanilla extract. So, if you need to buy commercial vanilla extract, do look at the label to confirm that it's vanilla extract and not vanilla essence or flavor.
However, I am glad to say that I have no regrets to DIY my homemade vanilla extract. It's so easy to do and you only need 2 ingredients and 3 simple steps to be a proud owner of your homemade vanilla extract! It's advisable to buy premium grade vanilla beans as the quality of your vanilla extract depends on the quality of your vanilla beans.
When choosing vanilla beans, avoid beans which are smoky, brittle, dry or mildewed. Good quality beans should have a rich aroma. Always choose plump beans with a thin skin to get the most seeds possible. To test, gently squeeze the bean between your fingers and it should be soft and pliable enough to wrap around your finger without breaking. The pods should be dark brown and almost black in color.
Now, it's time to DIY your very own homemade Vanilla Extract :
Recipe and info source : Beanilla
- 8oz glass bottle or jar
- 7 vanilla beans (I actually added about 9 beans to a cup)
- 1 cup Vodka 70 proof/35% alcohol
1) Slice each bean and place in a bottle.
2) Pour 1 cup of Vodka into the bottle. Make sure the vanilla beans are completely submerged.
3) Shake it once or thrice a week.
4) Wait for about a minimum of 8 weeks.
This is about 4 months old.
I actually made 750ml of extract!!!
A neverending supply of homemade vanilla extract and to give away as gifts too!
Harvest it into small dark bottles, if you prefer.
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