Friday, March 1, 2013

Homemade Friday: Vanilla. Really.

If you've been following along, it will surprise exactly none of you that I recently made my own vanilla extract.

It's just, for some reason I am amazed and delighted that I have the ability to make things I've only ever bought before with my own two hands and some easily-found ingredients.  And really, it shouldn't come as a surprise to me.  I grew up in a family that made most of what they ate.  There was no canned spaghetti, or even canned spaghetti sauce.

We didn't buy tortillas, and we never bought a can of green beans.  We went to the basement and brought up a jar that we (they) had grown ourselves and broken and canned.  That was just the way it was.

And I think that's part of why I enjoy this so much.  It's getting back to the way I was brought up.  I don't have the light or the space to garden the way my parents did, and I'm lucky if I don't have to buy tomatoes during the summer, which is a shame. 

But this need to bake things that otherwise would have been bought, or just not eaten, stems from that.  I may not be able to can my own salsa at the moment, but I can damn sure bake some homemade vanilla wafers using homemade pure vanilla.

For making vanilla extract I used a mixture of recipes from The Homemade Pantry and Make the Bread, Buy the Butter.  Both of those books are well-loved and well-used by me, especially The Homemade Pantry.  It seems a little more down-to-earth than the other one, and a little easier to follow.

Making the vanilla is really so easy that I kind of feel like a fool for not doing it sooner.  I hate to pay for pure vanilla because usually it's not in the budget, and I always feel guilty for buying the imitation one that's only a dollar.

For this I used some leftover vodka.  I say 'leftover' because my friend left a whole jug of it when we had a girls' get-together at my house.  Chris drank most of it over time, but there was still some left for me.  So I dumped some in a jar, sliced open a few vanilla beans that I bought online (here) and put them in, too.  And then I shook it up.

And then I waited.  And after a week I opened it up and smelled it and then shook it up some more.

At one point I added more vodka and beans to enhance the flavor.

And then repeated.

I did this for about a month before it stopped smelling so strongly of vodka and started smelling like vanilla.

Glorious, heavenly vanilla.

Other examples of my need to make things from scratch:
Chocolate Graham Crackers
Granola Bars
Vanilla Wafers
Graham Crackers
Soft Pretzels
Baby Food

I've also made oreos and pop tarts, but forgot to tell you about them.  And tortilla chips.  And hummus.  And spaghetti sauce.  And pasta. And other stuff I can't remember right now.


  1. I love real vanilla, it is so much better than the artificial stuff. I'm going to have to try your tortilla recipe, too -- I've never made them before and it looks easy and yummy.

    1. It's so easy and they taste so much better than the stuff you buy in the store!

      Thanks for commenting. That doll you made is adorable!

  2. Sounds wonderful!

    1. Your picture is so sweet! My kids are hardly ever that close without one of them ending up with a bruise!

      Thank you for commenting!


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