Homemade Vanilla Extract by Judy Fitzgerald

judyblog1During a specialty farm tour this past summer at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company located on the Big Island of Hawaii, my family and I had a behind-the-scenes look to see how one family with 25 acres and a growing family of five kids produce 300 pounds of vanilla a year.  Owner Jim Reddekopp is the personal tour guide and explains how vanilla is grown and cultivated.  The whole Reddekopp family chips in to cultivate the vanilla and share the process with travelers. They host vanilla tastings and luncheons are accompanied by a presentation on raising vanilla and making it’s extract.  As they explained how easy it is to make at home since it requires only 2 simple ingredients and no special equipment, I couldn’t help but think how fabulous homemade batches of vanilla extract would be for baking back at home (or if you are really planning ahead, gifting for the 2017 holiday season!).  Below, I’ve included the recipe straight from www.hawaiianvanilla.com


Homemade Vanilla Extract
  1. 3 vanilla beans, minimum (you can double this amount to intensify flavor)
  2. 12 ounces of alcohol*
  1. Lay the vanilla beans on a cutting board and carefully slice them length-wise, using a small paring or kitchen utility knife.
  2. Scoop out the soft sticky seeds inside the beans with a small spoon. Spoon the beans into a 12-ounce or larger glass jar.
  3. Chop the remaining bean husks into a few small pieces that can fit into the bottle.
  4. Add the 12 ounces of alcohol, making sure all beans and husks are fully submerged.
  5. Seal the jar tightly, shake well, and store in a cupboard that will not be exposed to direct sunlight.
  6. This is the only challenging part of a homemade vanilla extract recipe – patience! The mixture will need to infuse for about six months. The longer you wait, the more intense the flavor will be.
  7. After the infusion period is over, strain the mixture through a simple paper filter or cheesecloth. Now you can pour the resulting liquid into a pretty bottle or decanter. Be sure to mark the bottle clearly – vanilla extract is alcoholic and not suitable for tasting by curious kids in the kitchen!
  1. *What kind of alcohol is best? Many chefs prefer to use vodka, as this spirit has the most neutral and “clean” taste, keeping the emphasis on the vanilla flavor. However, you can experiment with a more richly flavored alcohol, such as brandy or rum.
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