By Cheryl Forberg
Anyone who's taken one of my classes or cooked in my kitchen can tell you that my favorite ingredient is - vanilla! Growing up I always favored chocolate ice cream but the older I got, the more I appreciated the taste of REAL vanilla.
At any given time, I usually have 3 or 4 different types of vanilla extract in my cabinet. But I also like to make my own. It's super easy and also a fabulous gift that most everyone appreciates.
The vanilla bean by the way, is actually the fruit of an orchid plant (called the vanilla orchid - surprise!) The orchids thrive in warmer climates and most of the world's vanilla supply comes from India, Indonesia, Mexico, New Guinea and Tahiti. Commercial vanilla orchids are pollinated by hand and the process of vanilla bean growth takes about three months.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
If you want to make a smaller (or larger) batch, just use a 1/2 pint (or quart size!) jar and adjust ingredient amounts accordingly.
2 cups Vodka (no need to buy a top shelf brand; inexpensive vodka is fine for this!)
6 Melissa's Vanilla Beans
1 clean pint size jar
Remove vanilla beans from package and cut each bean in half lengthwise.
Using a small knife, scrape seeds from inside of bean from top to bottom.
Transfer vanilla paste and bean pods into the clean jar. Repeat for all beans.
Fill jar to bottom of top rim with vodka. Seal tightly and shake well.
Label jar (including date) and place in cool dark cabinet. Try to shake jar once or twice a month. Vanilla will be ready to use in about 6 months.
Nutrient Analysis per 1 teaspoon serving