After finishing up a store-bought bottle of vanilla extract, I realized that I could make my own version of this baking staple quite easily for less money and with better assurance of quality vanilla beans.
Vanilla pods are actually the fruiting part of orchids from the genus Vanilla which originates from Mexico.
Although I aim to be a locavore as much as possible, vanilla is hard to replace in many recipes. Luckily, the pods can be purchased organically and as a fairly traded item from Mountain Rose Herbs.
To begin making an extract, I selected 9 vanilla pods. I made an incision along the edge and scraped out many of the seeds found inside. I placed these into a pint canning jar.
The mixture of seeds and pod pieces were then covered with vodka (use 80 – 100 proof) and left to extract for 6-8 weeks. The seeds and pods can be filtered out after this time, but it won’t ruin anything to leave them in for a longer time period.
The extract will quickly become darker in color and will continue to develop over the weeks.
It smells deliciously and works wonderfully in baked goods!