Real vanilla is a must in my kitchen. I haven't bothered with the imitation variety for years, and some of the best vanilla I have used has been gifts from Mexico. Their vanilla seems so much purer than the types found locally. I typically purchase mine at Costco since their price just can't be beat. But recently, I have been reading articles on making your own vanilla. I'm always up for a fun experiment so when I saw Costco recently selling vanilla beans, I decided to give it a go. After reading many, many articles on this particular topic, I finally settled on this basic method.
Of course first, you need vanilla beans. As mentioned above, I purchased mine at Costco:
With the Costco package you get two vials with 5 vanilla beans in each. And just as a totally unrelated side note, the vials are really cool, and I'm determined to find a useful purpose for them.
I just used pint canning jars for my concoction of vanilla. My choice was pint jars simply because I have a lot of them on hand. In each of the three jars I poured one cup of vodka. And then I placed three vanilla beans in each jar making sure that the beans were pushed down below the top level of the vodka.
The jars then found a home on one of my pantry shelves that remains in the dark, unless of course I need something off of that particular shelf.
To help the process along, the jars need to be shaken a couple of times a week. And look here, after just one week, it is starting to look like vanilla:
I read varying reports about how long this whole process takes. The times varied from 2 to 6 months. I will probably lean more toward the 6 months, as it only makes sense that the longer it sits, the better flavor it will have.
The only regret I have is that I didn't start this 6 months ago. Wouldn't it be fun to give homemade vanilla in cute little bottles as gifts for Christmas? Maybe next year if this works out.
I have one lonesome vanilla bean left over from my original package so I have great plans to make vanilla sugar with that. I will have to let you know how that works out.