How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract...SO Yummy!
There is nothing better on the nose than a scrumptious vanilla bean! Except for Vanilla Extract that is! Sweet and slightly spicy at the same time---I just love the smell of vanilla! Here is how to make your very own vanilla extract. It's way better than store-bought, and it can be gifted in a beautiful bottle too! I'll also share where to get the best vanilla beans!
Benefits of Vanilla
Vanilla is full of antioxidants! Who knew? I always thought that vanilla was just a tasty bean, but it can actually help get rid of certain free radicals in the body. Research is still taking place about the benefits of vanilla, but for now, it is thought that vanilla just may help bring down cholesterol and also help with inflammation in the body.
Why Make Your Own?
First off, you know EXACTLY what's in it---because you made it yourself! Vanilla Beans and whatever type of alcohol you choose. That's it.
Did you know that the artificially flavored vanilla extract sold in grocery stores is actually flavored with chemicals that come from coal tar? If you make your own, all that vanilla goodness is the real deal! That's a comforting thought in my book.
Finally, when you make your own using this method (traditional tincture), the vanilla bean is not heavily processed. The extract actually has up to 90% more of the beneficial compounds than vanilla extract that's been processed in factories. That's another big plus!
Ingredients for Making Vanilla Extract
Alcohol--at least 80 proof. I simply use Vodka.
How to Make Vanilla Extract
1) Cut your vanilla beans in half lengthwise. You want all the juicy inner part exposed to the alcohol.
2) Place several halves into a quart size Mason jar.
3) Pour your alcohol (Rum, Vodka, Brandy....as long as it's 80 proof or higher) over the beans to within an inch of the top.
4) Put the lid on!
5) Shake once in awhile. Some herbalists say to place the infusing extract in a dark cupboard---I use the solar method, so leave mine in a sunny window. Plus, it looks really cool.
6) After a minimum of 6 weeks, just strain out the liquid and bottle it up! You can keep a piece of bean in the bottle if you want. It will just make the extract stronger over time, and it's kind of pretty.
That's it! :-)
Where Can I Get Vanilla Beans?
You can buy Vanilla Beans from Starwest Botanicals. They sell them in 1/4 pound units (quite expensive, and you sure can make a TON of extract that way), OR you can purchase 4 beans at a time. I like their beans because they are fresh and moist inside. I bought some a long time ago, and they were all dried out. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Starwest has never disappointed me on any herb purchase I've made there.
You can also try Costco, believe it or not! I ran across some in the spice aisle there this past Fall and decided to take a chance! There were very good quality too! The price was actually comparable to Starwest, which surprised me. So if you are fortunate enough to have a Costco around, you can give them a try!
I got the cute bottles in the picture above at Hobby Lobby. However, if I wasn't gifting these, I'd be using amber glass bottles to store the extract long term for myself. You can gift them in the amber glass bottles too. They are also pretty---you just can't see the bean!
These bottles are great for storing extracts. This size is kind of large, but there are other sizes as well. This was the only picture I could get! :-)
I hope you try out making your own vanilla extract! If you've never made an herbal tincture before, guess what?! This is as simple as it is! It's just not as intimidating using vanilla. This could be your gateway into making your own herbal tinctures and plant medicines!
Hugs, Love, and Self-Reliance!
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I know I keep sprinkling Rosemary Gladstar's book around my posts, but I just cannot tell you what an exceptional source this is for the beginning herbalist. It's informative, fun to read, and once you try out some of her recipes and see that they really do work, your confidence will be sky high and you may just want to learn more about making plant medicine!