Vanilla extract is usually used in desserts such as vanilla-flavored cakes, cookies, puddings, ice creams, etc. In fact, vanilla extract can be divided into natural and artificial. In order to avoid eating extra artificial additives, we can also buy vanilla pods to make vanilla extract, and there are several ways to reuse the used vanilla pods!
Ingredients for Homemade Vanilla Extract
Homemade vanilla extract only needs two materials: vanilla pods and wine. It is recommended to choose higher quality items to make a more delicious finished product. There are three types of vanilla pods that are most commonly found today. The first is the Madagascar vanilla pod, also known as the bourbon pod, which is considered the most fragrant type. The second is the Mexican vanilla pod, which has a balanced aroma and a hint of smoke. The third is Tahitian vanilla pods, which are more delicate, with a little fruity and floral aroma. Vanilla pods are dried before use, so the vanilla pods on the market are usually already dried.
As for the wine used to make vanilla essence, how to choose? In fact, many people use vodka because it tastes safe and not easy to make mistakes, but if you want to make the flavor of vanilla extract richer, you can choose a stronger wine. In addition to the safest vodkas, bourbon, brandy, and rum are also highly recommended. The vanilla extract made from rum is full of tropical flavors and is especially suitable for fruit-based desserts.
After introducing the basic ingredients for making vanilla extract, let’s take a look at how to do it right away!
natural vanilla extract
- 6 vanilla pods (any kind)
- 2 cups vodka (or other alcohol)
- 1 glass sealed jar (or glass sealed bottle)
- Cut the vanilla pod straight with a sharp knife. After cutting, the vanilla pod will open. At this time, you can clearly see the vanilla seeds contained in it, and you can smell the fragrance. No need to take out the vanilla seeds! Just cut open the vanilla pod.
- Take out the sterilized airtight glass jar (or airtight glass bottle) and put all the cut vanilla pods in. If the glass jar is not big enough, you can also fold the vanilla pods in half.
- Pour the vodka into the glass jar so that the wine is high enough to cover the vanilla pods. If any vanilla pods float up, leave it alone.
- Seal the airtight glass jar and let it sit for about 6 weeks to allow the flavors released by the vanilla pods to fully infuse into the wine. It is recommended to shake the airtight jar once a week to aid in fusion.
- After 6 weeks, open the lid of the airtight jar and take out the vanilla pod inside, and the vanilla extract is done! You can take it out and use it whenever you want.
Homemade natural vanilla extract needs to be stored in a cool place without direct sunlight. It can be stored for about 2 years or even longer. However, the flavor of vanilla extract is the strongest in the first year, and then it will fade with time, so It is recommended to use up within 1 year. We can use vanilla extract in a variety of baked goods, such as the recipes below.
How to reuse the soaked vanilla pods?
After taking the vanilla pods out of the airtight jar, there is still a smell left behind, so don’t throw them away right away! These vanilla pods can be used in the following examples.
- Vanilla sugar: dry the vanilla pods first, then put them in a sterilized airtight glass jar, add 2-3 cups of caster sugar, seal the jar for 2 weeks, the caster sugar will have vanilla the taste!
- Vanilla Salt: Same steps as vanilla sugar, just replace the caster sugar with salt.
- Vanilla Coffee and Vanilla Milk: Add the dried vanilla pods to hot coffee, hot milk, or other suitable hot beverage, and stir for a hot vanilla-flavored beverage.
- Stewed fruit: Stewed pears and stewed apples are very flavorful with vanilla, just throw in the vanilla pods and cook together when stewing. Refer to the recipe below.