Making vanilla extract is not difficult, is very rewarding to prepare, and can be developed and enhanced the longer you steep it. It starts getting really good after 3-4 months and just gets better with age.
The Amazonia Vanilla Company prefers the bourbon variety of vanilla, known for its bold and intense flavors and variances. This variety was named from its origins in the bourbon Islands.
The extraction requires alcohol and water to pull out the full range of flavors so it is important not to have alcohol content too strong. The ideal concentration is between 35% and 40% alcohol. One tablespoon of distilled water may be added to one pint of 80 proof alcohol to reach an ideal concentration of around 35% alcohol.
It is not necessary to pay for expensive brands of alcohol. Vodka is often preferred for its neutral taste. Rums can also be used, but it may overpower the nuances of the vanilla.
Purchasing low moisture beans is ideal for more ‘bean’ and less ‘water’. This produces more concentration of flavor. Homebrewers use between 9 to 16 beans per pint. The FDA standard requires 1.7 oz of bean per one pint of liquid (see table below). We recommend 12 of our premium beans for one pint of alcohol to reach this strength.
If you wish to prepare a full quart: double the vanilla and liquid to maintain the proportion, or the concentration can be adjusted based on preferences.
If you wish to prepare the vanilla in the original bottle, be sure to remove about ¼ cup of vodka from a newly opened bottle to allow room for adding the vanilla pieces and two tablespoons of water.
Place a vanilla bean on a cutting board and with a paring knife, slit down the length so the tip of the knife is half into the center to expose the inner paste to the liquid. Then chop the long bean into ½” segments and place in a bottle of the liquid. Repeat the same for all the beans
That’s it. Now, just close the bottle. Once a day, give your bottle a shake. You can begin using it after one month, while the remainder continues to age and develop. A quart is wonderful, as it can last for over 3 years and reach its peak while you continue using it.
After the last drop is used up, don’t throw away the pieces. Squeeze the last drops, then dry the pieces out in a small dish for several days. Once they are dry and brittle, grind in a spice or coffee grinder. Add it to recipes, and homemade ice creams, or add the pieces into a jar of sugar to infuse the sugar with vanilla. There are still nice, mellow flavors not to be wasted.
|Liquid (35-40 % alcohol)||Weight of beans||Approximate # of beans|
|1 gallon||13.35 oz||100 beans|
|1 quart||3.34 oz||25 beans|
|1 pint||1.7 oz||12 beans|