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Aug 21, 2012 01:29 PM

Making vanilla extract Ina Garten's way..anyone try it?

Just watching Ina Garten and saw her make vanilla extract. She just put the entire bean right in with the vodka into a mason jar. No splitting and cutting. I usually cut my vanilla beans in one inch sections then split them before adding the vodka.The advantage doing it her way is that at some point you can take out the bean and cut one end and then squeeze out the inside. Seems logical. Have any of you tried it?

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  1. Found whole beans, in those glass "cigar" tubes, at local farmer's market... CHEAP. They were still nice and "bendy" and had a lot of aroma. I split and put into vodka and just let sit on counter. NEVER got what I'd consider extract??

    4 Replies
    1. re: kseiverd

      I have made extract by splitting a few whole beans and sticking them in vodka, which worked great - the extract was usable after a few months in a dark cupboard and even better 6/9/12 months later. To the OP, I would think that the splitting step is important, to expose the seeds to the vodka and infuse them with more flavor? Interested to see if anyone has tried it without the splitting step.

      1. re: Aravisea

        I make my own all the time as I can't buy extract where I live -- I put 3-4 split and scraped beans in 16 oz/500ml vodka -- it's brown in about 3-4 weeks, and good extract in about 3 months. (I leave the beans in the bottle and just add a little extra vodka as I use it -- you can extend it quite a while this way.

        1. re: sunshine842

          If you haven't tried using rhum agricole, you should. The two flavors marry beautifully...

          1. re: tmso

            I've just discovered that white rhum agricole is actually considerably higher proof than yes, I'm going to try changing all my distillation projects -- vanilla AND liqueurs -- to using white rum.

            (don't like drinking white, I prefer gold or dark, but I figure the white will work even better than vodka for my other projects)

    2. I've made vanilla for ages but have never Ina's way. I always split the pods and scrape out the seeds. Whenever I have a used pod I throw it in and top up with Vodka, Brandy and/or Bourbon. Keeps indefinitely. Love the stuff myself.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chefathome

        Glad to hear you use bourbon. I've got a couple of beans steeping in bourbon for the past several months. Haven't tried it yet, but am planning on using it to make one of my husband's favorite desserts--bread pudding with bourbon sauce--once we get some cooler weather.

        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          You are going to love it! Bread pudding with bourbon sauce is divine.

      2. I have some friends in Mexico who put it in rum. It is fantastic stuff and adds a lot to many dishes. It takes six months or so, though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: travelerjjm

          I've used rum with one whole vanilla bean...... mmmmmmmm! Best thing ever for pancake and crepe batter.

        2. I also use rum (as posted above). I have used whole beans (not split) and it works just fine. I have also squeezed out the insides later for vanilla paste. It works very well.

          However, now I just snip off one end of the bean. I do this because I actually like the little seed flecks in my extract, you don't get that when you put in a whole bean. I also find I don't really use the vanilla paste (squeezed out seeds), I just always forget I have it.

          1. I NEED to try this! But I do have a couple of questions on everyone's suggestions above:

            1) Will the extract still be strongly rum/vodka flavoured? or does the vanilla bean over power the taste of the booze? I'd want the vanilla flavour, not the booze.

            2) A couple fo "recipe" mention splitting (which is understandable) and scraping, the bean. Now, I've scrapped the bean before for various recipes so I know how to, but for this extract, would you scrape it and then dump the little mound on the end of your knife into the bottle in a clump? Would that not make the extract have "floaty bits" in it, or does that clump break down in the lovely vanilla dots you usually find?

            I'm thinking that this would be perfect as a christmas gift for a few people I know, so I want to get on this ASAP, and I don't want a recipe which they would have to filter it before each usage.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Midknight

              1) The alcohol is still in the extract of course, so the type of alcohol you use does have some impact on the final flavor. I used to use vodka but have decided I prefer the flavor when it is in rum. You don't taste the alcohol in the final food products, by the time the vanilla is really infused you get the taste of vanilla not the alcohol. (Commercial extract is mainly alcohol as well)

              2) Vanilla beans are expensive. So I think that drives how people make extract more than anything. I use whole beans and I just snip the tip off one end. I like the flecks in my extract (seeds). I find when I split the bean in half I get clumps rather than flakes. It is cosmetic and once it is mixed into say a cake batter it all breaks apart. No need to strain. A good shake also helps break up any clumps. You could also scrape a bean for say one recipe and then use the pod itself for extract as well - the same way you could use a bean say steeped in milk and then rinse and put in sugar for a "second use" out of the bean.

              I've tried to attach a picture of one of my extract bottles. (Vanilla extract is harder to take a pic of than you'd think). I use probably 15 beans per bottle. I snip the end off of one side of each bean. And then keep in a cupboard for a good 6 months. This one is pretty close to done. With that many beans, I will also refill the bottle with rum once the bottle is about 1/2 done. The whole thing will keep re-infusing for a while.

              1. re: Midknight

                1) white rum is fairly neutral.

                2) You shake vanilla vigorously when you first mix it, every day for the first few days, then once a week for the rest of the "cooking" time -- so yes, it will break up the bits. Sometimes I don't shake before using because I don't want the seeds in sauces or frosting.

                You could alternately make and age your extract now, then filter and bottle before Christmas.

                1. re: Midknight

                  1) The alcohol flavour quickly dissipates. I made 1 bottle of vodka into extract a few months ago, I used half of it and topped the bottle off with more vodka. For 2-3 weeks, it still smelled strongly of vodka; however, the last time I opened it, it smelled like a delicious vanilla extract.

                  2) I scrape mine but many people do not. I suppose the infusion time would be less but time isn't an issue and I don't like the floaties.

                  Vanilla extract makes wonderful Christmas gifts! Pure vanilla extract is EXPENSIVE, so they'll be grateful for the savings. Homemade vanilla extract is better, so they'll be grateful for the flavour. Homemade vanilla extract takes a good bit of time, so they'll be grateful that you thought about them so long before's the perfect gift! I buy my containers from a local hobby store, they have all different shapes and sizes to spice it up. Some people even go the extra mile and make labels for their gifted extract.