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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Vanilla has a fundamental presence in the homes of bakers. It’s the first ice cream flavor I remember -- the Cornish kind of vanilla ice cream with that unreal yellow color. So when I discovered how easy it was to make vanilla extract at home, I wondered why more bakers weren’t doing it. It takes only the smallest bit of effort -- and a good bit of patience -- to have homemade extract that you can use in cakes, cookies, and puddings.
For something a little more adventurous, you can also pick some lavender (or buy some at the market), dry it out, and make a delicious lavender extract. My favorite way to use lavender extract is to add it to waffle batter along with white chocolate chips.
More: Try Lavender-Chocolate Chunk Pancakes with Crème Fraîche, too.
While I can buy extracts easily, it makes me so happy to make them myself. They're also great for cocktails: If you put vanilla or lavender in the vodka for just a few days rather than a few months, you can use it as vanilla- or lavender-infused vodka, instead.
Makes one 1/2-liter bottle or jar
3 vanilla beans or 3 handfuls dried lavender
2 cups high-quality vodka
Add the vodka to a clean 1/2-liter bottle or jar, followed by either the vanilla or the dried lavender. Invert the bottle to immerse the beans or leaves into the vodka.
Seal the bottle and keep it in a cool place for 1 to 2 months, then use the extract in all of your delicious baking recipes.
Photos by Trisha Jones