Do you think it is worthwhile to make your own vanilla extract or am I better off staying with Nielsen-Massey? Does anyone have a great recipe for bourbon vanilla extract that they would like to share?
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I think it depends upon how much you go through; I seemed to be buying a bottle a week so it made sense to buy beans online in bulk and make my own. I used 2-3 beans per cup of vodka but it is a bit weak. Next time I will double the amount. The nice thing is you can customize the extract to your own taste. I bought a few different types and they are all very different. My favourite is Tahitian...
I will buy lots of beans and jar them with brandy or bourbon. I let them steep for approx 2 months before I like using the extract.
I steep them whole, the booze makes them plump and lovely. If I need a bean for a recipe, I will split it and return the pod to the jar if all I want are the seeds. Sometimes when I make custards I will add a used pod to the milk for flavor.
I like making my own vanilla, but I have learned to be patient. I use 12 oz of vodka and 4 oz of bourbon, and 10 vanilla beans. I split lengthwise, to expose the seeds, then cut then in half so they are all submerged in the liquor. Give it a couple of shakes every couple of days for the first two weeks or so, and in about 8 weeks, I have really good vanilla.
On this thread, Chef Ono explains a method for making your own vanilla extract:
I also make vanilla extract with vodka. The alcohol scent is strong but the wonderful vanilla flavor comes through when using it for baking.