When things are too expensive at my local grocery store I usually go online to see if I can get the same ingredient for a better price. A few weeks ago I was needing whole vanilla beans for a recipe, but couldn't bring myself to pay $10 for just 2 beans at HEB. Vanilla bean paste is a good substitute for whole vanilla beans sometimes, but it still runs about $12 per jar. I went to my trusty resource amazon.com to see what it had to offer, and this is what I found: 1/4 pound of Premium Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Beans (approx 27 beans) for $19.99 plus shipping. STEAL! See for yourself here.
There are endless uses for vanilla beans and you can use them over and over. NEVER throw away your bean pods after you scrape out the beans. Put some in a jar with sugar to create vanilla scented sugar or make your very own vanilla extract. Making extract is so simple and cost efficient.
I've posted the instructions below. This is so easy! No excuses why you shouldn't shake some up before the holiday baking season begins. Remember though..... your vanilla will need 2 months to macerate, so get with it!
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own vanilla extract:
- A mason jar, or some other clean, super sealing container.
- A high-proof alcohol like vodka, bourbon or rum. We’re talking 80 proof.
- Three vanilla beans per cup of alcohol
- A dark spot to store the jars.
- Two months. That’s how long it takes to create vanilla extract!
Use a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down the center of the vanilla beans, leaving about an inch at the top of the vanilla bean uncut.
Put the vanilla beans in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. I used mason jars.
Cover the beans completely with alcohol. It’s three vanilla beans per cup of alcohol, so if you use 2 cups of vodka split open six vanilla beans and throw them in the jar.
Tightly cover the jar and give it a good shake. Store in a cool dry place for two months. Give the bottle a good shake every week or so, just so you don’t forget all about it.
After two months have passed, your vanilla extract should be ready for your favorite chocolate chip cookie or pound cake recipe. You might also want to put the extract in cute, tiny bottles and give them to your favorite baker friends.