Vanilla Extract Recipe Using Bourbon, Rum, and Vodka
A Vanilla Extract Recipe That Will Take Your Baked Goods From Good to Exceptional
The culinary uses for pure vanilla extract are endless—from vanilla cakes, vanilla frosting, vanilla custards, and vanilla bean ice cream to breads, savory sauces, and vinaigrettes. Heck, I’ve even heard of folks using it to dissipate that stale refrigerator stench and reduce signs of aging. Determining what you will be using your vanilla extract is important but equally (if not more) important is the quality of the vanilla extract you use. And, the only way to ensure you are getting the concentration of vanilla flavor you want is to make it yourself.
And why not, making homemade vanilla extract is so simple! Plus, purchasing a high-quality vanilla extract can set you back monetarily. You can save so much money making your own and all you need are Grade B vanilla beans and alcohol.
Keep reading and I’ll present a vanilla extract recipe that can be used interchangeably with bourbon, rum, or vodka as the carrier liquid. But first, you need to determine whether you want to make a single-fold extract, double-fold extract, or something a bit more potent. It all comes down to the intensity of that vanilla flavor.
For a single-fold vanilla extract to be considered ‘pure’, the FDA requires 13.35 ounces of vanilla for every gallon of alcohol. That’s a lot of vanilla extract though, and much more than we will be making today. It breaks down to about .83 ounces of vanilla for every cup of alcohol. A 6-7 inch bean will average about .15 ounce. That means, for a single-fold vanilla extract, you’ll want to use about 5 vanilla beans. For a double-fold, you simply double the number of beans.
You’ll also need to determine the alcohol you want to use as a carrier. I made 3 separate vanilla extracts, using vodka, light rum, and bourbon. The vodka is the most neutral in flavor and as an extract will be used in most recipes. Bourbon adds another level of depth and I love to use it in baked good around the holidays. It makes an amazing whipped cream! I plan on using the vanilla extract made with the rum to enhance things like horchata, lemon bars, and cheesecakes. Quality of liquor isn’t vastly important when making an extract that will be aged, but it does make a difference. If it’s not something you can stomach a sip of, grab the stuff one shelf higher at the liquor store.
Now, let’s get started.
As promised, here is the vanilla extract recipe:
Vanilla Extract Recipe
- 10 extraction grade vanilla beans (or half the amount for single-fold vanilla extract)
- 1 cup alcohol (bourbon, rum, or vodka)
- Jars with leak-proof lids or corks
- Slice your beans lengthwise to expose the vanilla seeds.
- Chop the beans into 2-3 inch pieces and place them at the bottom of the jar.
- Pour the alcohol over top of the beans, ensuring they are fully submerged. I had an adorable, little helper donning a gymnastics uniform for this step!
- Place the lids on the jars and shake well.
- Store the extract in a cool, dark place and return to shake it 2 or three times a day.
- After a couple months, your vanilla extract should be potent enough to use but the longer it is aged, the better it gets. The temptation will be strong but if you can hold off for 6 months to a year before testing it, I highly recommend you do so.
- Once your vanilla extract is well-aged, use a small funnel to transfer it into smaller bottles (2-4 oz). The beans will be only partially spent so don’t waste that vanilla goodness. Use them to make vanilla sugar, vanilla powder, or start another round of extract.
Now that you have an incredible homemade vanilla extract, it’s time to start making your baking bucket list.
What will you do with yours?