My fingers smell fantastic. I just keep sniffing them. I am making homemade vanilla, for the first time. I have been dying to try this for over a year, and finally, finally I ordered vanilla beans from Amazon. For 1/4lb “Premium Bourbon-Madagascar” vanilla beans, about 27 beans, I paid around $12, and also ordered some sweet almond oil (something else I have been meaning to try for a while now instead of lotion) to get free shipping. They arrived today, so I sent my husband to the liquor store for the cheapest bottle of vodka available, a 1 liter bottle of McCormick’s for about $7. And now, I am set to make vanilla.
After looking at numerous recipes that varied from 2-4 beans per 3/4 cup of vodka, to 10 beans per 1 liter of vodka, I was a little befuddled. Basically, the more pods you use, the more quickly the vanilla will reach usable strength. My husband reminded me this is vanilla and vodka, not something complicated, so I went with a small experimental batch that should make a strong vanilla extract quickly:
1 cup (8 oz) of vodka
5 vanilla pods
I used a paring knife to split the beans almost all the way up the pod, leaving the last inch intact, curled them up and stacked them in a clean 8oz Mason jar. Then, I just filled it almost all the way up with vodka, put the lid on and shook. It looks like a big, creepy spider upside down in a specimen jar.
All of the recipes said to store the vanilla in a dark place, shake frequently (some said daily, some said every few days, some said weekly…) and the vanilla will darken and intensify over time. Some recipes said two weeks was the minimum, others said two months. Almost all agreed that the vanilla would reach peak strength around 4-6 months, with a dark amber color and strong, rich vanilla aroma. I’m hoping that two months will be enough time so that I can start using it, and so I will have time to make a big batch for Christmas gifting if it turns out well 🙂 The best part of making vanilla is that the beans are good for 6 months, so as I use the vanilla I can keep topping off the vodka, and then change out the beans when it’s time. And then my fingers will smell yummy again! I wonder if I can add this to my homemade deodorant to make it vanilla scented…