It wasn't that I thought the vanilla I was buying was bad...just that I thought, 'maybe I can make it better!'. After doing some research, I realised that making your own vanilla extract, in theory, really wasn't that difficult. Obviously, the super important bit being the vanilla pods, I wanted to make sure I was getting the best product. After hours of research, I knew I wanted to go organic and fairtrade if possible. I found a great site that sold Mexican origin products (Being a CA native, that tugged on my heartstrings!!) and so I bought....loads!
If you want some great products for baking or cooking, take a look at Vanilla Sunrise. The lovely people there sent me a sample of vanilla sugar which I am super duper excited to try out on some delicious cake recipe in the near future :) I ended up getting Organic Vanilla pods which you can see are absolutely gorgeous! They were lovely and pliable and had a beautiful sheen to them. I couldn't wait to start scraping out all that wonderful caviar!
Let me tell you, I think I grew a few greys scraping out all those seeds!! I had about 100g of vanilla pods to de-seed which took me a good 30 minutes. While I'm sure there are much worse jobs I could be doing...oooooooh did my back ache! Blood, sweat and tears in this vanilla I tell you! I managed to round up all the vanilla seeds once I stopped moaning (Izzy the dog had to endure though, poor thing!) and start the whole extraction process. I bought this great recycled clear glass bottle with stopper and, even though experts say that you should only use dark glass for making extract, I knew it would be stored away in a cupboard and that it would be fine to use. Plus, I do what I please. There. Anywhooooooo,
I scraped all the seeds into the bottle then chopped all the pods into thirds and shoved those in as well. The pods as well as the seeds continue to impart flavour into the alcohol once it's stopped up and the extraction process is underway. Isn't this fun??
I used a good quality vodka as my alcohol, but you can use whatever you want really. Rum is also an alternative alcohol you could use which would give an amazing flavour (future project??).
So, here she is...in all her glory! It'll take a minimum of four weeks to start to become extract-y. Vanilla extract, for all intents and purposes, is like wine. It gets better with age. So, the longer you keep it the better! Although, after about 6 months, the vanilla pods will have given up as much as they can so you can strain them out (the seeds will still be in there!) and keep in the bottle for years! (Or as long as it takes you to go through the bottle). I honestly cannot wait to try this! I'm gonna give it a shake a few times a week for the next month and then we'll see where we are. In the meantime, I'll keep you posted on the vanilla progress.