One of the best things about having my own bakery, is being able to experiment with alllll the ingredients. I get to think about each component of every dish. One of my favorite baking components to play around with is..you guessed it, bananas!
I mean vanilla extract.
Homemade vanilla requires 2 ingredients, vanilla beans and alcohol.
While there are many different types, I typically stick to 3 : Ugandan, Madagascar and Tahitian.
Ugandan is by far my favorite, and of course, the most difficult to find. The beans have a earthy, milk chocolate flavor if you will. So when I can find them, I use this extract exclusively for my cookies. Madagascar and Tahitian are more common, with Madagascar being more buttery In flavor and Tahitian more floral.
You can use whatever you have on hand, from rum, bourbon, gin to vodka. Extract isn’t picky. I will say for me, when using Madagascar beans, I will use a bourbon, something about those flavors work wonderfully.
When I make extracts for my business, I stick to those two ingredients, but when I make extract for friends and family, I get a bit more creative. One year, I made a cinnamon bourbon vanilla, I left the bean and a stick in the jar, just incase someone wanted to make more, they could add more alcohol , shake and wait.
A few days ago, I was able to secure more Ugandan Vanilla beans, so of course, I had to make a few, well 12 bottles .
My recipe is as follows :
Vanilla Beans of your choice
4 oz. Amber bottles
70 to 100 proof alcohol of your choice
1. Cut your vanilla bean in half, then run a clean sharp knife down the center, cutting the bean open. Drop the open bean into the bottle.
2. Once the bean is in the bottle, pour your alcohol in the bottle, making sure to cover the bean. Not covering the bean could lead to mold growth. If you want to speed up the extraction process, you can heat the alcohol before pouring it into the jar. If you decide to heat your bour..I mean alcohol, make sure that you're just heating it slightly and not boiling it, keeping it below boiling keeps it safe to use.
3. Place the lid on the bottles, then give them a warm water bath, no more than 130 degrees for a few hours. This step is completely optional.
4. After ensuring the lids are on tightly, give the bottles a firm shake, for at least 30 seconds. Then store them in a dark cool place for at least 90 days, shaking them once a week.
I know 90 days seems like forever, but I promise you the depth and flavor that homemade vanilla extract brings to your baked goods is well worth the wait.