Remember vanilla Cokes and Dr. Peppers, homemade vanilla ice cream and grandmother’s baked goods with real vanilla. My grandmother would make old time egg custards with real vanilla and cinnamon. I can smell it even as I type this today. I remember my family always brought back large bottles of vanilla whenever anyone went to mexico and gave them as gifts. I was always hoping I would receive one of those bottles at Christmas. Not long ago I was reading how real vanilla extract was made and came across some old recipes for making your own homemade vanilla extract. I was amazed to find out how simple the process is and how wonderful the flavor. I was also surprised to find out that most vanilla extracts are 35% alcohol or 70 proof. No wonder some of those old church ladies used so much vanilla extract!
Vanilla can be made from Bourbon, Vodka, Tequila, Brandy or Rum. There are only two ingredients, your favorite of the before mentioned liquors and vanilla beans. I prefer the mexican type of vanilla so I used clear Rum and mexican vanilla beans. I want to make some of the Southern style vanilla with bourbon in the near future. I bet it would be wonderful in custard or pecan pie. Here is the basic recipe and you can add a bean or two if you want it stronger or if you use too much of it up before the aging time is finished. It takes a couple of months to completely make but you can start using it in as little as two weeks. You can get your vanilla beans at some of the specialty grocery stores or do as we did and order them from Ebay.
Take two cups of Rum, Bourbon, Vodka or Tequila and place in a glass jar.
I use three vanilla beans for two cups of liquid and slice them length wise leaving about an inch at the top to hold them together and place in the liquid.
Try and let is sit for two months, at least two weeks before using.
I turn the bottle or shake it once in a while to facilitate the brewing. If you give the extract as a gift you may want to strain out the vanilla seeds and pieces. I find they add to the flavor of whatever I am making at the time so I leave them. Remember this has the same alcohol strength as whatever liquor you used to make it, so use responsibly. Try it and see if it is not the best vanilla extract you have ever tasted, Wild Ed