I have a confession to make.
I am a vanilla fiend.
I love it. I happily put it in everything I bake, and genuinely believe it makes everything better. It also makes appearances in homemade yoghurt and even some savoury dishes.
I think maybe I have a problem.
But a few years ago, I found a way to at least make this
addiction habit much much cheaper. After all, most people love to add vanilla extract to cakes, but how many can actually afford to go and buy those tiny little bottles of expensive amber liquid everytime they get the baking urge?
It’s quite a simple equation really (I like maths, is that bad?):
Alcohol (vodka) + chosen ingredient = extract
I was so excited by this, I went out to the local supermarket straightaway to buy a large bottle of budget vodka (you can go expensive if you want, but this has always worked for me) and I got online to bulk buy vanilla pods from Vanilla Mart (I bought 50 pods and 2 and a half years later I am finally down to my last 5!). It worked out as about £17 in total. Sound like a lot? I use only 6-8 pods in each 1 litre batch of vanilla extract.
Picture those tiny little 38ml bottles you get in the supermarket. Got it? Now picture a huge 1 litre bottle of extract and how much longer that will last you. I usually only make up about 1 litre to last me all year (sometimes longer), and that’s with me being a self-confessed vanilla fiend!
Well, then this is how I made my vanilla and orange extracts if you would like to make some of your own:
1 litre bottle of vodka (can be of any quality)
6-8 vanilla pods, slit lengthways (depending on how strong you want it)
1. Place the sliced vanilla pods into the bottle of vodka.
2. Give it a little shake (want some inspiration from KC and the Sunshine Band?).
3. Leave it in a cool dark place for 8 weeks, shaking it every now and then.
4. Open the bottle, and inhale the beautiful scent of vanilla!
5. Remove the pods, shake again.
And there you have it!
1 litre bottle of vodka
2-3 oranges (again, personal preference)
1. Peel the oranges, keeping the peel to one side. (You can eat the yummy fruit now!)
2. Cut the peel into strips.
3. Place the strips into the bottle of vodka and shake a little.
4. Leave in a cool dark place for 8 weeks, shaking it every now and then.
Your extract is ready! You can remove the peel if you want, but I like mine strong, so tend to leave it in.
There is one last step in these recipes: Never buy extract again! (Unless it’s a baking emergency. Or you can’t be bothered to wait 8 weeks. Or you don’t mind spending extra money…)