Friday, May 21, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract And Vanilla Sugar


I've got my vodka, I've got my vanilla pods, I've got my castor sugar. No prizes for guessing what I'm up to.


I'm telling you how much and where to buy these items because I KNOW I will be bombarded with questions otherwise. :)

1. Smirnoff Vodka (1L) = around S$20 (from Changi Airport duty free), around S$40 from regular shops.

2. Vanilla pods (10 in a packet) = S$10 from Phoon Huat. This is the el cheapo version because I really don't know where I can buy Madagascan or Tahitian vanilla in Singapore! Anyone knows?

3. Castor sugar (1kg) = S$2.50 per packet from supermarkets.

4. Container for sugar = S$2.95 from IKEA.

Assuming you get your vodka from duty free like I did, and you dunk all 10 vanilla pods into the 1L bottle ... you basically get pure, homemade vanilla extract for under S$30!!!

Better yet, use those vanilla beans for baking before you throw the pods into the vodka, so that those pods are essentially used TWICE. How's that for stretching your dollar?


Oooh, save some pods to make vanilla sugar. Just throw them into your (castor) sugar jar and store them there. Next time you need vanilla beans, take one pod out, rinse it, slice it, scrape the beans out, and then throw the used pod into the bottle of vodka. In the meantime, your sugar gets perfumed by the heady scent of vanilla.

You can do the same for your regular granulated sugar too. Imagine how your coffee or tea will taste like. :)


Work-in-progress ...

I saved this empty bottle of my daughter's favourite drink. Re-use whatever clear glass bottles you have at home (clean and dry them first, obviously). This one is 300ml, so I'd need about 3 to 5 vanilla pods. I put 2 in first (beans already scraped out) but I will add more as I continue using up the pods for baking.

Over time, as you start using the extract, just keep adding vanilla pods and top up with vodka. The more pods, the richer, darker, concentrated your extract will be. Vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf life. Like fine wines and spirits, they become better with age. Isn't that good to know? ;)


This looks like sunset in a bottle, no?

Store in a cool, dark place and give it a little shake every few days. But don't forget to first admire that gorgeous hue of amber (in the early days, at least). Now that I'll have a never-ending supply of homemade vanilla extract, I can live happily every after. *contented sigh*

Others who have made it too:
Evan's blog
Jen's blog
Elises' blog

Update:
My friend just asked a good question: "Why we can't use cheap cooking wine?" Why do we have to use vodka or brandy or bourbon?

The answer can be found here. Essentially, higher proof of alcohol = stronger extract. Vodka has an alcohol content of 40 to 50%. Cheap cooking wine or rice wine, on the other hand, have an alcohol content of about 15 to 25%.

* In order to get the strongest extract possible, use a high proof of alcohol and scrape the seeds from the pod (or split the pod open).

* To get a weaker extract, use a lesser proof of alcohol and soak whole pods intact.

* In addition, corn syrup or sugar helps extract and develop the flavor from the vanilla pods (corn syrup dissolves more easily).

* Occasionally, spoon out some of the mass of vanilla pods that settle to the bottom of the jar for when you want a very intense vanilla flavor (such as homemade vanilla ice cream or butter/vanilla pretzel cookies).

All the above useful tips and more, can be found at this site.

54 comments:

  1. Ju,
    When I start baking this will be most helpful.. meanwhile I have sent a link to my friends who bake. ;)
    Enjoy your weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  2. woo, I've read about homemade vanilla extract. But the thought of getting premium grade vanilla pod made me reconsider. Recently I bought a 500ml bottle vanilla extract from phoon huat for about 12 bucks which I think will last me for quite a long time.

    hope you have a great time using ur homemade vanilla extract =]

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Now that I'll have a never-ending supply of homemade vanilla extract, I can live happily every after. *contented sigh*"

    lol that was what i felt too, after making my own! its gonna be really satisfying to use yr own extract :D can't wait to see the end result in...6 mths time!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cool! Unlimited vanilla extract! I love the idea. Thanks for sharing these great ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Evan: Believe me, your post sealed the deal for me! I told myself, the moment I get my bottle of vodka, I would be making this! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. wah! nice!!! now for that Vodka!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for sharing the tips! Now I know how to make home made vanilla extract!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lovely post. Thanks very much for sharing. Ju, you are helping all of us to save a lot of money!!! :D :D

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Ju, new fan of your blog and can I just convey my admiration for you?? LOVE your blog. :)

    Quick question though - do you wash the pods before using them? i bought a pack and the exterior of the pod is sticky and has all these black bits on it....

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anon: Thanks! Well, being the clean freak that I am, I rinsed them quickly under running tap water and patted them dry. And THEN I cut them. ;) You're right, the pod exterior was sticky and kinda grimey.

    ReplyDelete
  11. thanks for sharing, i know what i m going to buy during my next trip at airport. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I made vanilla extract and found the little brown bottles on line. I also got good organic vanilla beans on line at Mountain Rose Herbs, not sure about the international shipping though. I bottled it, label it and gave it for Christmas gifts. I love to use the vanilla vodka too, just add a little simple syrup and mix it in your favorite cocktail. You can check my blog for my extract. http://tinyskillet.blogspot.com/2009/11/vanilla-extract.html

    I love the vanilla sugar idea. I just used it in my chai spice mix. Don't you love how far you can use a vanilla bean?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great job! I have vanilla sugar on my counter that I have been using and replenishing. I love it. I also have my first bottle of extract "cooking" for about a month now. I am so excited. I can't wait to have my very own HUGE bottle of vanilla.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That last picture is stunning- the light shining through the bottle makes the vanilla-vodka concoction look like a sunset over a lake! I use vanilla sugar in my tea and coffee too :$ Although I've never thought about making my own vanilla sugar. Thanks for the instructions!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is amazing!!! Store bought vanilla extract is so expensive and this way to make your own is so cool! Thanks Ju darling for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I shall make my own vanilla extract too...vanilla beans cost slightly more.....8 together might be 12 Euros...

    ReplyDelete
  17. OMG... great idea. I am going to do this as well. I have vodka and vanilla pods :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I too like make my own vanilla extract. It is much cheaper that way. I am able to buy the Madagascan and Tahitian vanilla but I am not sure if they will deliver to S'pore or not. If you need the link just let me know.

    ReplyDelete
  19. You can try Pantry Magic or Shermay's Cooking School @ Holland V for good quality vanilla beans.I believe Pantry Magic carries Madagascan ones.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Well, of course you had me at Vodka! Beautiful photos, and I love your incorporation of text.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you! Now I don't have to stock Virginia Dare when I go to Singapore!

    ReplyDelete
  22. The last photo is superb!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Ju, thanks for this post! I would never have guessed it was THIS easy to make my own extract. Not only that, you take such excellent shots - a real, natural talent you are!

    - Bhir

    ReplyDelete
  24. Jasmine: Thanks for the heads up! :)

    Gerrie: I only use Virginia Dare! Hahaha. But not anymore, once my extract is ready. ;)) It costs S$7 (I think) a pop at Cold Storage. And I use it up in no time! Where do you live?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Beautiful pics Ju!
    I have had my bottle of homemade vanilla going for several years...
    I also have a lovely jar of vanilla sugar...I adore it!
    Mine was not ready for use for abut 6 months or more. I have actually just used the entire large bottle of vodka, the bottle the vodka comes in for my master recipe. You can absolutely keep topping it off and adding more vanilla beans.
    Lovely post!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hey, vanilla pods are much cheaper here.
    RM23 for 25 pcs, but I think only one place in KL, Bake with Yen is going at this price.

    ReplyDelete
  27. hi Ju,

    I live in Kuching, Malaysia. I stock up half a dozen each time when I am there, and get others to buy for me as well. I once spilled an entire bottle (with only one other bottle in stock), and almost had an anxiety attack! haha. I should probably stock up a few more when I am in Singapore next week, just in case!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I like vanilla sugar.. and usually I use the vanilla beans and didn't want to throw the pod so I keep in my sugar pot.. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wow, ok next time I'm at duty free I'll surely buy a bottle of smirnoff.

    ReplyDelete
  30. great idea to make your own, now that will be getting a mixer, we'll bake more so this will be handy!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Great post and lovely photos as usual! I can't see myself buying pure alcohol, though... I still have gotten over the fact that alcohol is in the store-bought vanilla extract in my pantry. It bothers me to no end hahaha.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I do that with my sugar too! Next time I should dump them in some vodka. Vanilla extract and pods are so expensive!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hello Ju!!

    I also make my own vailla extract but fdon't add any sugar!!
    I also make my own vanilla sugar!! when you make these 2 recipes there is nothing better!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Heh, I've had a stash of homemade extract and vanilla sugar since almost a year ago. I just used the extract to make some EXCELLENT ice cream and I use the sugar all the time, too - it's especially nice on grapefruit and not-quite-ripe strawberries.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have a jar of it myself in the pantry. It is one of the best things I have discovered from food blogging.

    ReplyDelete
  36. so clever! i should start making my own vanilla extract too instead of just downing the vodka..;) x

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi Ju,
    Welcome to the "homemade vanilla extract club"! Life will never be the same once you have your own vanilla extract. I can feel the excitement that you are feeling now. I've already used up 2 bottles of Vodka since last year. And I have another 3 bottles in store, waiting to be topped up! Heehee...It's a bottomless vanilla extracts I have! ;))

    ReplyDelete
  38. Ju, I've read a few recipes on how to make your own vanilla extract but have not struck up the courage as yet. This looks great and so does the vanilla sugar. BTW have your tried Shermay's at Chip Bee Gardens - they do have good vanilla pods and I believe they have Madagasgar's as well.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Wow, I've never even considered making your own vanilla extract before! I've always just assumed it's some huge industrial undertaking that can only be attempted if one owns large factories with large chimneys.
    Must go buy some vodka soon, and some tequila on the side for me ;p

    ReplyDelete
  40. try pantry magic at chip bee gardens or culina at demsey?

    ReplyDelete
  41. Jasmine, Jo, Cleartear: Thanks for your tip off! :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. perhaps u can try singpost. Buying the vanilla bean via http://www.theposter.com/vanilla2.html den send it to the us address.
    After have singpost to send you.

    I believe you can share the cost of the vanilla beans ( Tahitian ) with other blog-bakers

    ReplyDelete
  43. I made my vanilla essence this way too. Cheaper and more aromatic. For the pods, I order the Madagascar ones from amazon ... cheaper (even after shipping costs) and more fragrant keke

    ReplyDelete
  44. I hope I don't sound silly here by asking these questions.

    1. Do you wash and dry the pods before dunking into vodka?
    2. What to do with the beans inside? Any recipes to share?
    3. If I'm making vanilla sugar, do I need to wash and dry the vanilla pods first?

    MH

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. I gave a quick rinse and dried them using a clean paper towel.
      2. You use the beans for anything that calls for vanilla. Instead of extract, you can use the beans.
      3. If you want to.

      Delete
  45. You can get Madagascan or Tahitian vanilla pods from Kitchen Capers. The shop is at Block 71 #01-531F Kallang Bahru Singapore 330071. Or their online shop is : http://www.kitchencapers.net/shopstore/ingredients.htm

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi

    Do i need to rinse the pods before putting them into the sugar to make vanilla sugar?
    I realise the pods that i bought has some white dots on them.. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just a quick rinse should be fine! I rinsed mine too.

      Delete
  47. Hi Ju

    Thanks for your sharing. I've read d 3 blogs u've linked above and a little confused..do u scraped out d beans 1st and dunk into vodka or do u start off with pods and beans then slowly add in just pods along the way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really up to you. Depends how intense you want the flavour to be, and how fast you want your extract to "mature". I scrapped the beans out for baking, and dunked only the pods. And I continued dunking "empty" pods" along the way. If you are in a hurry to get your extract going, perhaps you can start with dunking some sliced pods (with beans intact). That will certainly make the extract more intense more quickly. And then, you can add empty pods later, as you go. Hope I am making sense!

      Delete
  48. Hi ju, you mentioned vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf life. Does it mean theres no expiry date for the extract?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lily, yes. Just keep topping up with vodka and empty pods. I am still using the same bottle of extract that you see in my photos. That's like 2.5 years already? ;)

      Delete
  49. Hi Ju,

    Could you advise how long did you soak the vanilla pods into the vodka before you start using the extract? Need to wait till it's very dark colour ?
    Thank you for your advice in advance :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, I think it was about 3 months before the extract was ready to be used. Yes, you need for it to be quite dark in colour. For the past 3 years, I have been topping up that same bottle of vanilla extract you see in the pic, using that same bottle of vodka! Make your own extract. You'll never go back to buying! :)

      Delete