Why is Vanilla Extract So Expensive Right Now?
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If you bake regularly, you may have encountered bit of sticker shock the last time you bought a bottle of vanilla extract. There are a few reasons why we’re seeing higher prices on vanilla right now.
High Demand for Pure Vanilla Extract
More consumers are seeking out pure vanilla extracts, and that’s definitely part of it.
According to the folks at Nielsen-Massey, makers of pure vanilla products, “the global vanilla industry has been volatile for some time and prices have fluctuated significantly in the past decade.”
The demand for pure vanilla across the industry has skyrocketed, so much so that in 2015, when large food and beverage companies such as Nestle, General Mills, Hershey and Kellogg’s started removing artificial ingredients and replacing them with natural products, it triggered a price jump.
Dwindling Supplies of Vanilla Beans
In addition, Laurie Harrsen, senior director for communications and public relations for McCormick, says “there’s an unprecedented limited supply of quality vanilla beans in the marketplace, with prices escalating over 400 percent since 2014,” adding that the company won’t sacrifice quality for price.
The cyclone that hit Madagascar earlier this year—that’s where the bulk of vanilla extracts are sourced—sent prices even higher.
Vanilla is More Expensive Than Ever
But keep in mind that vanilla has never been an inexpensive purchase—it’s second to saffron in terms of its cost.
Right now, the folks at Nielsen-Massey say vanilla is about 62 cents per teaspoon—an 8-ounce bottle retails for about $29 and contains 47 teaspoon-sized servings. They use a proprietary cold extraction process that preserves the 300 compounds in the beans and that means a more flavorful product.
Best Substitutes for Vanilla Extract
In the meantime, if you want to save some pennies and get creative with your baked goods you can investigate some of the less expensive options, such as premium vanilla flavor or imitation vanilla. Perhaps you won’t notice a difference. There’s also vanilla bean paste which is great in recipes where you want to see and taste the flecks of the bean, and vanilla bean powder, which you can be incorporated into the dry ingredients in recipes.
Nielsen-Massey says you can use their pure vanilla products interchangeably in recipes—a whole vanilla bean equals 1 T of paste equals 1 T of pure extract equals 1 T of powder.
You can also make your own extract by placing the beans in alcohol such as vodka, and purchasing beans wholesale online. Splitting the cost among friends can make it more economical—it’s typically cheaper to buy in bulk
What’s a Home Baker to Do?
I typically try to look at these kinds of events as opportunities to explore other ways of cooking and baking. This year, I’ll stock up on other kinds of extracts—lemon, lime, almond, peppermint, coconut, and so forth—and experiment with the way I bake and cook during the holidays and after. You might find that you temporarily fall in love with another flavor profile!
Or you might just go back to vanilla once the price comes down again. There are plenty of good reasons to do so.
Why Is Vanilla Getting More Expensive?
It's everyone's favorite flavor, and now it costs a lot more.
We love them, and the price rises: First it was avocados, now it seems an essential ingredient for baking may be facing the same fate. Have you noticed an increase in the price of pure vanilla extract at your grocery store? There has been a big hike in the market price of vanilla: in 2015 one kilo of vanilla beans was $100 currently that kilo is a whopping $600.
As vanilla is the second most labor-intensive food in the world (after saffron), a high cost is understandable. Harvesting vanilla pods is done by hand, and the process of harvesting, picking, soaking, wrapping, and warming takes several months. This intense process and high cost have long made synthetic vanilla attractive to companies seeking vanilla flavor for their food products. Recently, as consumers have become more conscious about natural flavors, the demand for vanilla has increased with more food companies sourcing real vanilla instead of synthetic -- and increased demand means higher prices.
Adding to that is the fact that supply is limited: The number of places where vanilla grows is small. The island nation of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean is the world&aposs largest producer, with Indonesia a close second. Plus, earlier this year Madagascar lost one third of its vanilla crop in a cyclone. This caused a temporary vanilla shortage.
There is good news: Many vanilla plantations in Madagascar have begun rebuilding and expanding since the cyclone, so prices should not remain at the current highs. It will though take a few years before any vanilla can be harvested from these new plants, so be prepared to pay more for quality vanilla until then.
This holiday baking season, will you use less vanilla in your cookies because it costs more? Somehow we don&apost think so.
Want to know more? Watch Thomas Joseph explain and show different varieties and forms of vanilla:
Why vanilla is so expensive
Vanilla prices have climbed so high it's worth more by weight than silver. This increase in price has to do with a number of factors, including vanilla bean theft, complex pollination, extreme weather, and the rise of the "all natural" food movement. All of these variables combined to create the perfect recipe for a very expensive spice. Following is the transcript of the video.
Narrator: You might think of vanilla as basic. The word is even used to mean boring, average, or basic.
Student: Why do we have to go all vanilla on this song? See what we need is my chocolate thunder.
Narrator: But vanilla may not always be so run of the mill. Vanilla prices have climbed so high it's worth more by weight than silver, and that high price tag could be bad news for lovers of ice cream, yogurt, chocolate, and even perfumes.
One reason vanilla has gotten so expensive is, it's hard to grow. Vanilla vines take two to four years to fully mature, and their flowers only bloom for one day of the year. In order for the plants to produce beans, they have to be pollinated that day. In most places where vanilla is grown, it isn't a native plant, and there aren't bugs or birds capable of pollinating the flowers. Vanilla is native to Mexico, but deforestation there has greatly reduced its natural habitat. In Madagascar, where over 80% of vanilla is produced, the flowers have to be pollinated by hand. The pods need several months to cure after harvesting. The whole process is time-consuming and labor-intensive. But the record high price of vanilla also has to do with changes in the vanilla market.
In the 1980s, cheaper artificial vanilla overtook the market. Vanilla farmers cut back production because they weren't making enough money. But around 2011, demand for real vanilla rose again. Big companies were joining the all-natural trend, pledging to eliminate artificial flavorings from their products, but it's taken a while for the vanilla farmers to get back in the game and they don't all want to.
Growing vanilla is a stressful and volatile business because there is such high demand, vanilla beans are a target for theft. After working hard to cultivate their crops some farmers have their beans stolen. As the stolen beans move up the supply chain, they get mixed in with legally purchased beans making it difficult for buyers to know which are which. The prevent theft, farmers pick the beans before they're ripe and unripe beans means lower quality vanilla.
Farmers also try to prevent theft by branding their vanilla crops with a metal pronged brand. That way buyers can identify what farm the vanilla came from.
Farmers also run the risk of having their crops destroyed by extreme weather events. Cyclones are common in Madagascar and climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of those storms. If a cyclone were to wipe out vanilla crops next year, it would take until at least 2022 for new plants to start producing beans, and farmers might not want to take that risk. So the supply could continue to drop even further.
The once basic, boring vanilla may wind up becoming a rare sought-after delicacy.
Allow the beans to air dry. Break two or more in half and place both pieces in a 6 oz. Ball jar then cover with sugar. Shake every week or so. It will be ready in about 4 weeks. This is very similar to how I preserve herbs in sugar.
You can use vanilla sugar pretty much the same way you use regular sugar and baking or eating. It also makes a nice finishing sugar, dusted over baked goods or fresh fruit. I love these 8 ounce swing top jars for making flavored sugar.
Homegrown Business: Gourmet Natural Extract From Tribal Vanilla
This week, our featured business is Tribal Vanilla, which sells gourmet natural vanilla extract imported from Mexico, along with imported vanilla beans from Uganda.
Andrew demonstrating pollinating for the President’s assessment team March 26th, 2017
What is your business called and what does it do?
Our business is called Tribal Vanilla, and we sell gourmet natural vanilla extract imported from Mexico, and Grade A vanilla beans imported from Uganda. Our network of small-scale farmers produce the highest quality vanilla, which we import for consumers who value quality and ethical production.
We provide a fresh approach to our industry. Our name, Tribal Vanilla, signifies that through purchasing our vanilla products the consumer becomes part of a tribe or community that is changing lives in both Mexico and Uganda. It enables the consumer to feel good about helping improve the quality of life of small-scale farmers in the developing world, while receiving an all-natural premium vanilla product.
What made you want to do this work?
We wanted to create a business that not only provided high-quality products for our consumers, but allowed us a platform from which to advocate for and improve the lives of others around the world. We use a direct fair-trade business model, which means our small-scale farmers get paid prior to their harvests and receive the most amount of money for their vanilla products. We supply the best quality natural vanilla products at a fair price, while changing the lives of our farmers through assisting them in creating sustainable agriculture.
What problem does this solve?
Vanilla is very expensive in grocery stores at the moment because there is a world-wide shortage. Currently, we sell our premium vanilla products at introductory discounted rates through farmer’s markets and festivals.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
From individuals to commercial kitchens, our main clientele are people who desire high- quality vanilla products and understand the benefits of purchasing fair-trade vanilla. Our clientele want high quality at a fair price, and appreciate products that are affecting positive change in the world. We also love partnering with various companies who love the powerful taste or scent of vanilla in their products. Anything from vanilla-flavoured alcohol, honey, baked goods, pressed juices and more we love collaborating with other local and startup businesses!
How does your business make money? How does it work?
Like any business, we need to source our products at a competitive price on the world market in order to retail it to customers at a price they can afford. This has been a challenge in the vanilla industry because we are at the mercy of weather and natural disasters on the other side of the world, which dictates the price at which we can buy our products. Vanilla is so expensive right now because there is a supply shortage, but hopefully the market will correct itself and vanilla prices will fall in the not-too-distant future. We try to purchase in bulk to get the best price possible so that we can pass on those savings directly to our customers.
Where in Calgary can we find your products?
For the summer you can find Tribal Vanilla at the Bearspaw Farmer’s Market on Sunday mornings (10-2pm), various street festivals (Inglewood SunFest August 3rd and Tour De Bowness Festival August 5th) and pop-up events (Little Modern Market September 21st). The goal is to have our premium vanilla products on grocery store shelves within the coming year!
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services?
Customers have a choice! So, why should they buy our vanilla products over the competition? What makes Tribal Vanilla different is our approach to business…it’s not all about the money. Our desire is to affect change and create a better world. When customers purchase our vanilla they are contributing to our direct fair trade business model which helps us accomplish this goal. Secondly, quality matters so we are relentless about ensuring we provide top quality vanilla to our customers. Our vanilla pods are individuals inspected and hand-sorted by trained staff who only accept the very best prior to packaging.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
The best part of our job is knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of our small-scale farmers. We pride ourselves on our personal approach to business by providing on-the-ground liaisons to our farmers, and providing them with the tools and funding they need in order to improve a better quality of life. We love when other people become part of this tribe that is changing lives.
The worst part is that the price of vanilla has skyrocketed world-wide and is out of our control. We sell our vanilla at the fairest price possible, and look forward to the day when the price of vanilla decreases.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
It’s funny how the word “vanilla” became a connotation and descriptive word for being boring and dull. Vanilla is one of the most powerful and aromatic spices out there!
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Calgary business that you love?
Creme by Dimsumdiet Soupin’ it Up
Crystals Hot Sauces
Where Can I Get Vanilla Beans?
You can buy Vanilla Beans from Starwest Botanicals. They sell them in 1/4 pound units (quite expensive, and you sure can make a TON of extract that way), OR you can purchase 4 beans at a time. I like their beans because they are fresh and moist inside. Starwest has always come through on any herb purchase I've made there.
You can also try Costco, believe it or not! I ran across some in the spice aisle there this past fall and decided to take a chance! There were very good quality too! The price was actually comparable to Starwest, which surprised me. So if you are fortunate enough to have a Costco around, you can give them a try!
If neither of those places is an option, Amazon also has grade A gourmet quality vanilla beans too!
Alcohol poured in and all ready to infuse for several weeks!
Here’s what it looks like within just a few hours.
I got the cute bottles in the picture below at Hobby Lobby. However, if I wasn't gifting these, I'd be using amber glass bottles to store the extract long term for myself. You can gift them in the amber glass bottles too. They are also pretty---you just can't see the bean!
I’ve got one of these jars two years later, and the extract is as dark brown as can be and lovely! This herbal tincture extract will keep indefinitely!
How much do vanilla beans cost?
On Amazon, the lowest price I could find was $2.10 per bean. I ordered 10 of them to make 4 (4 oz) bottles. I also bought a dozen bottles and a small funnel:
There were directions on the package which came from Vanilla Products USA, but I didn’t use them. According to them, I would need to add 1/2 ounce of beans to make 4 oz of extract. That would be at least all 10 of the beans I ordered for $25. I paid less than that for the bottle I bought at BJ’s!
Instead, I went by several recipes I found online (there are millions). I figure if I don’t get vanilla by this holiday season, maybe I will get it by the next.
Best with Seeds: Sonoma Syrup Co Vanilla Bean Crush Extract
Flecked with vanilla bean seeds
Balanced Tahitian and Madagascar flavors
Only available in 8-ounces or 1-gallon
This unique product is thick, syrupy, and filled with tiny vanilla bean seeds, so your finished desserts will have that characteristic speckling you normally only get from fresh vanilla. The company uses a combination of both Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans and Tahitian vanilla beans, so you’ll get the flavor and the characteristics of both in one bottle. This syrup can replace standard vanilla extract in all your recipes in equal amounts, even though it's on the thicker side. It comes in an 8-ounce bottle that will last you through multiple recipes, but we have a feeling you'll keep finding excuses to use it.
Bean Type: Madagascar Bourbon & Tahitian | Extract Type: Pure Extract | Sizes Available: 8 ounce
Homemade Vanilla Extract – Better & Cheaper Than Store-Bought (FAK Friday)
Who doesn’t love vanilla extract? If you’ve ever done any baking, you know it finds its way into nearly every recipe. Even if it’s just a little, a bit of vanilla can add that extra something to make a dessert special. Even chocolate can be enhanced by a few drops of the stuff!
It’s no surprise, then, that I go through vanilla like there’s no tomorrow. It can be expensive to keep stocked up on the good stuff, though, so instead I’ve been trying to keep a supply going of my own. Not only is it cheaper, but the flavor is worlds apart from your average extract.
Making your own vanilla extract is one of the easiest things you can do, and it can save you loads of money verses the stuff sold in stores. I estimated that a quart of my homemade extract cost me around 30 bucks to make (that’s about $7.50 per 8oz bottle, as compared to the $10-20 you might expect to pay at the store). And that includes the fancy little jars and labels — to make things even cheaper, you can skip the bottles and just store your extract in mason jars, or old (clean) wine bottles.
Plus, homemade extract is great for gifting. If you start a batch at the beginning of the year, by December you’ve got gourmet stocking stuffers that are sure to impress. Talk about a no-brainer!
Now, there are a lot of tutorials and DIY’s out there on this subject already… but to be honest with you, most of the ones I’ve seen give some pretty spotty (and often mis-informed) instructions. Don’t get me wrong, making your own vanilla extract is easy (exceedingly so!), but the results are only going to be their best if we know a bit about what we’re doing first.
Don’t be deterred by the lengthiness of this post — it may seem overwhelming at first, but making homemade vanilla extract really is easy. All you need are vanilla beans, vodka (or other liquor), and a little bit of know-how…
First, let’s talk beans — vanilla beans come in many different varieties (the most common ones are Madagascar or Bourbon, but there are also Mexican, Tahitian, Indonesian, Tonga, and more), and each one has it’s own unique flavor. Kind of like different types of chocolate, some are darker, or earthier, or more floral than others. If you aren’t sure where to begin, I suggest getting a sampler of beans from a site like Beanilla.com or Ebay, and try them out to see what you think. In most of my baking, I like to use Madagascar or Mexican (they are cheaper, and have a richer, bolder flavor). In more delicate recipes, like vanilla ice cream, fresh whipped cream, or white cake, I prefer the light, floral taste of Tahitian vanilla (this is my personal preference, and yours may be different). Once you have a feel for the different varieties, you can even try experimenting with using a mix of beans to achieve a unique flavor profile. This is your extract, after all, and you should make it how you like!
Besides coming in different varieties, vanilla beans also come in different grades. Grade A vanilla beans (also called “gourmet”) are what you are most likely to find in little jars in the spice aisle. They are big, plump, and great for splitting open and adding directly to a recipe. Then there are Grade B vanilla beans — these are smaller, and much dryer than Grade A beans. They are also referred to as “extract grade”, because the lower water content makes them ideal for flavor extraction. (The average Grade A bean contains about 30-35% moisture, while Grade B’s are between 15-25%.) And, because they are typically sold by weight, you’ll find you can get a lot more grade B beans for your buck. Score!
You can order Grade B beans from some spice shops, Ebay, or Beanilla.com — I use Beanilla for most of my orders, since they usually have a good price and I know them to be reliable. (Not being paid to say that, just my honest opinion.) They usually have Grade B Madagascar and Mexican beans, but for other Grade B beans, you may have to look on Ebay or elsewhere.
Once you’ve got your beans, the next thing you’ll need is some alcohol.
Homemade extracts are typically made with vodka, because it has a neutral taste, but you could also use bourbon, brandy, rum, or other liquor to bring a bit more flavor to the party. This is entirely up to you. In general, I prefer to make my extracts with vodka, because I can always add other flavors to a recipe if I want to.
According to the FDA, commercial grade vanilla extract need to be at least 35% alcohol content (or 70 proof). Your average bottle of vodka is 40% (or 80 proof), and for extracting at home that will do just fine. Keep in mind there will be some moisture in the vanilla beans that will dilute the percentage slightly. If you really want to be precise, you can dilute your 80 proof vodka by adding 1 TBSP of distilled water per 2 cups of vodka — this will bring your alcohol content to right around 37%, which still leaves a little room for the water content of the beans.
(Another, even cheaper option is to buy a bottle of 95% (190 proof) alcohol, such as Everclear, and dilute with distilled water (about 1 3/4 cup water to 1 cup Everclear) to make about 35% alcohol.)
Now, you may be thinking, isn’t a higher alcohol content better? Well, the answer is actually, no. Vanilla beans contain hundreds of flavor compounds, some of which are water soluble, and others alcohol soluble. The primary flavor we taste is a chemical called vanillin, which is mostly water soluble. If the alcohol content is too high, it will actually dilute the vanillin flavor and make your extract weaker, rather than stronger.
When it comes to choosing an alcohol, there’s a bit of debate over how much the quality matters. I’ve heard both sides of the argument — some say better quality vodka produces better extract, while others claim it makes no difference at all, and you shouldn’t waste your money. Personally, I go for a cheaper vodka, and all I can say is that the extract I make at home outshines all the others I’ve tried. One of these days I’ll make a couple batches with different alcohols to see if I can tell the difference, but until then I’m happy to save my pennies.
Okay, you’ve got your beans, you’ve got your alcohol… now it’s time to combine them. This is the part where I find the most incongruity among other how-to sites. A quick search turns up over a dozen results, with instructions ranging from a few vanilla beans in a gallon of vodka, to 3-4 in a cup. Surprisingly, neither of these are anywhere close to the required amount necessary to make an extract.
In order to be called an extract, the FDA states that it must contain a minimum of 13.35 oz. of vanilla beans per gallon. That works out to just shy of 1 oz. of beans per 8 oz. of vodka. If you’re using the smaller, extract-grade vanilla beans, that can mean anywhere from 8-16 beans per cup of alcohol! If you’re using plumper, Grade A vanilla beans, you will actually have to use more, not less, because of their extra water content. (Remember that commercial extracts are made with beans that have no more than 25% moisture.) Anything less, and you won’t have an extract, you’ll just have vanilla flavored vodka.
When you’re making vanilla extract, it’s always better to err on the side of too much vanilla, rather than too little. I suggest using at least 8-10 beans per 8 oz. of vodka, if not more. Keep in mind that vanilla extract comes in many strengths (single fold, double fold, triple fold), and the worst that can happen is you wind up with something a little more powerful than you expected. If your vanilla extract gets stronger than what you’re used to, simply use a little less in your recipes, or top off the jar with a bit more vodka every once and a while. Your extract will last longer, and you’ll still be saving money as compared to using fewer beans.
The other component necessary to making vanilla extract is time. How long should you let your extract sit before it can be used? As with the number of beans, the answer you get will vary depending on who you ask. In my experience, the extract can be used after just a few months of macerating. However, things start to get good after 6 months, and it will continue to mature well after that. (As it ages, you may even notice it becoming slightly syrupy — this is is when things start to get really good!)
After anywhere between 6-12 months, you can strain the vanilla to remove the beans and seeds. This step is optional, but makes for a nicer presentation if you plan to give your extract as a gift. Whatever you do, don’t get rid of the used vanilla bean pods! When dividing my extract into jars, I like to add 1-2 beans to each, so that the flavor can continue to mature. Any extra beans can be layed out to dry on a paper towel, then added to a bin of granulated sugar, which will soak up whatever flavor they have left.
Update: If you aren’t planning on gifting your vanilla, you can keep it in the original jar, with the beans, indefinitely. The longer it steeps, the strong and richer the extract will become. (I have one jar that’s been steeping for over two years, now, and it’s some of the best vanilla I’ve ever used.) If the extract ever gets stronger than you want (if that’s even possible), you can simply use less than called for in a recipe, or you can top off the jar with a bit more vodka every once and a while. If you use enough of the extract that the beans are no longer submerged, I recommend straining the extract, since the exposed beans can, in some cases, promote the growth of mold when not covered by the alcohol. (Note that I’ve never had this happen, but it’s still better safe than sorry.)
Now, there are just a couple more things to consider before we begin. I couldn’t resist using clear bottles for these photos, but just like with most other alcohol-based things, vanilla extract is best stored in dark glass bottles and kept in a cool dark place to keep the flavor strong. Brown or green wine bottles work well, or, if you’re wanting to make smaller portions to give as gifts, you can find bottles in all different sizes online. I ordered mine from eBottles.com.
While it isn’t always necessary, I recommend sterilizing your bottles or jars before using them. This can be done by boiling them in a stock-pot of water for a few minutes, then carefully removing them to a clean towel to dry. This way you won’t have to worry about any off-flavors developing over time.
(For those of you interested, I used Avery printable labels for my bottles — of all the sticker labels I’ve used, these seem to be the best, both for printing and adhering. I’ve uploaded each of my vanilla label designs onto my flickr page (here), so they can be easily downloaded, then uploaded onto whatever template you want to use.)
Let’s get started, shall we?
Homemade Vanilla Extract
To make one cup of vanilla extract, you will need…
1 cup of vodka or other liquor (between 35-40% alcohol)
At least 1 oz. of Grade B vanilla beans (there can be anywhere from 8-16 beans per oz, depending on their size and moisture content. I suggest using a minimum of 8-10 beans per cup of vodka, if not more)
Clean and dry bottles or jars (preferably brown or green glass, with tight fitting lids)
1. Split your vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds (also called the “caviar”), using the back of your knife. (See the photo above.) Removing the seeds is optional, but will give you a stronger extract in a shorter period of time. If time isn’t an issue, just split your beans lengthwise, and then cut them in half across the width so that they fit easily into the bottle or jar you are using.
2. Place all of your cut vanilla beans, along with the seeds (or caviar), into a clean jar. Pour the vodka on top, seal the jar, and give it a good shake. I suggest putting a label on your jars with the date the extract was started, this way you can keep track of how old it is.
3. Store your vanilla extract in a cool, dark place, and give it a shake every now and then. I keep mine in the stairway to my basement, and try to shake it up whenever I walk past… or whenever I remember to. It’s not a biggie if it goes unshaken for a while.
4. Let your extract mature for at least a few months before using. At this point it will still have a strong alcohol flavor to it, but will work fine in most recipes. The flavor will deepen and mellow the longer your extract ages. After 6 months or so, you can strain your extract if you wish (I like to use a double layer of cheesecloth, rubberbanded to the top of the jar). Don’t discard the bean pods, though! I like to add a few beans back to the jar after straining, so the extract continues to develop flavor. The rest can be set out on a paper towel to dry, then added to a bin of sugar to make vanilla sugar.
Remember to continue to store your vanilla in a cool, dark place (such as your basement, pantry, or fridge). The longer it sits, the more the flavors will mature, like a good wine. The best extract I ever made was a jar I forgot about for a little over a year two years. If, over time, your extract becomes stronger than you like, just top off the jar with a bit more vodka.
What You Need to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
A gallon jar
One gallon of Vodka (the cheap stuff is fine) (To keep you from standing in the liquor section too long to calculate this bottles of 1.75 liters each will be the exact amount you need to make a gallon of vanilla.)
50-80 Vanilla Beans (You’ll need about 1/2 – 3/4 pound) – enter code home for a 15% discount on Vanilla Beans through Olive Nation!!
Begin by slicing through each bean lengthwise, leaving about one inch at the top of each bean uncut so that it stays together.
Place all of your cut Vanilla Beans into your jar.
Fill the jar with vodka. (I took the following picture with my left hand while pouring the vodka with my right hand. This proves that apparently…I can really handle my liquor.)
Once the jar is full with beans and vodka, put the lid on…then put the jar in a dark place (like in the back of a cabinet). It needs to stay there for FOUR to SIX MONTHS in order to become vanilla extract! Occasionally, you should get it out and shake it up a bit, then put it back into it’s dark place.
Here’s the cool thing: If you start a batch of vanilla really soon, it will be ready in time to put into little bottles and give as Christmas gifts. (Family members reading this – you have exactly six months to forget all about this post and be surprised on Christmas morning.) If you don’t get it started right this minute, from what I’ve researched, a little less than six months of “vanilla extracting” time won’t hurt anything.
To complete your vanilla once four-six months have passed: strain out your vanilla beans with a coffee filter lined colander and tada…you have vanilla extract! Bottle it up in dark amber bottles – give it as gifts and start cooking with it yourself!! Yum!
AND…if you don’t want to make a whole gallon of vanilla…you can make a lesser amount:
- 1/2 gallon of vanilla….use 1/2 gallon of vodka (1.75 liters) and20-30 Vanilla Beans (enter code home for a 15% discount!)
- 1 quart of vanilla…use one quart of vodka and 10-15 Vanilla Beans (enter code home for a 15% discount!)
Well…I know I’ve influenced many of you to eat healthier and plant potatoes in a container. Is it now possible that several of you are going to run out to buy liquor? Tell the clerk the Heavenly Homemaker sent you.
I recommend that you purchase your Vanilla Beans through Olive Nation. You’ll receive 15 % off your entire order . Thank you Olive Nation for offering HeavenlyHomemakers readers free shipping on orders over $50 and a special 15% discount !