If you’ve ever picked up a cookbook for bakers, you’ve probably noticed how often vanilla extract is used. Vanilla extract adds flavor and sweetness to various recipes like cakes, cookies, custards, and more. Most people will typically buy their vanilla extract from the grocery store. Though this is good in a pinch, you often won’t be purchasing pure vanilla extract but instead an imitation.
To avoid imitation vanilla extract, why not try making your own? The process is actually quite simple. All you need is vanilla beans, vodka, and a jar with a leak-proof lid. You pour the solvent into the jar and add the vanilla beans (cut, chopped, or split). Finally, you seal the top and shake. To get the best results, you should let the jar sit for 90 days, shaking once weekly.
Now that you know how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract, you may be wondering what the best type of vanilla bean for extract is?
What Vanilla Beans to Use for Homemade Vanilla Extract
The best type of vanilla bean to use for extract is grade B Madagascar vanilla beans, also known as extract beans. They are high in vanillin content which is ideal for making single- or double-fold vanilla extracts. Additionally, grade B Madagascar vanilla beans have a lower moisture content than gourmet vanilla beans, which helps make the flavor more concentrated and is perfect for the long infusion process.
Extract grade vanilla beans often contain imperfections like splits and cracks resulting from the longer drying periods used for this grade of vanilla. Some of the most commonly chosen grade B vanilla beans for extract feature red striations up and down the pod. When it comes to the flavor of grade B Madagascar vanilla beans, you’ll experience a well-rounded, rich, bold, and creamy taste.
How To Make Cocktails with Vanilla Extract
Once your vanilla extract has aged, you’ll be eager to try it. One of the quickest ways to test out your vanilla extract is by adding it to a cocktail.
Here are three holiday cocktails you can add vanilla extract to:
- Boil 2 cups of water or black tea
- While water is boiling, place 1-2 cinnamon sticks and 2 cloves in your mug or cup
- Pour boiling water or tea into mug and let steep for a couple of minutes
- Stir in 1 ½ oz of dark rum, whiskey, or bourbon, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Remove tea bags and enjoy
- In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 ½ oz of vodka, 1 ½ oz of Kahlua, 1 oz of espresso, and 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Add ice and shake vigorously
- Strain into your martini glass and garnish with coffee or leftover vanilla beans, if desired
Vanilla Cranberry Mimosa
- In a champagne flute, add 1 ½ oz champagne, 1 ½ oz of cranberry juice, and 2 drops of vanilla extract
- Stir carefully and garnish with cranberries
Any of these three cocktails will be a sweet hit at your next holiday party.
Choose Pure Vanilla Extract
When making your own vanilla extract, grade B Madagascar vanilla beans are the best type of beans to use. Starting with high-quality extract beans ensures that you’ll get premium results full of flavor. Not only can you add your vanilla extract to cocktails and recipes, but you can also gift it to others. If you don’t have time to make your own vanilla extract, make sure you’re buying pure vanilla extract and not the imitation variety. Your family, friends, and taste buds will thank you!