Okay, so here is the easiest recipe ever....and totally the most rewarding!!! If you are buying regular vanilla or, God forbid, the fake stuff, you need to read this!! I have been making homemade vanilla for a few years now, and it has taken my baking to a whole new level!!! Buttercream to die for, muffins and cupcakes that people can't NOT eat, and even my favorite London Fog tea tastes better!
So here's the thing, lots of recipes will either tell you to cheap out of the alcohol or cheap out on the vanilla beans. JUST. DON'T. Buy good alcohol, buy good beans and use enough of them!! I have seen recipes where they used cheap vodka and 5 beans for 750ml. Nope. Not good enough!!
Soooo let's talk booze! Traditionally, homemade vanilla is made with vodka, because it is a neutral tasting alcohol. Tried it and it's "ok". The BEST vanilla I have ever made comes from either run or bourbon, but my preference is a nice rum. The sweet, subtle flavour pairs beautifully with the vanilla and adds an amazing flavour to everything!!
Now, vanilla beans. If you area vanilla snob, then you'll already know that the three main types of beans are the Bourbon, Mexican, and Tahitian vanilla beans and each ones has its own flavour profile. I'm in Canada. The fact that I can get my hands on vanilla beans is a feat in and of itself. I buy what I can which happens to be a fair trade vanilla beans that are imported from Uganda. I'm assuming the are Bourbon beans! (correct me if I am wrong!!). If you want to know the difference, I suggest you google it. It's worth a read. For all intents and purposes, I would recommend bourbon and they have the most natural "vanilla" flavour!
Not only will this vanilla elevate your cooking, it makes a wonderful gift! Make mini size bottles and add to Christmas baskets or pair it with a box of tea! People will love the thought that went into it! Give it a shot!
750ml good quality rum
20 vanilla beans
1L Pop top bottle
1. Place the funnel in the pop top bottle.
2. Split each vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Add seeds into the bottle and toss in each half of the beans.
3. When done with all the vanilla beans, pour over your rum.
4. Seal the pop top jar, give it a good shake and place it in a warm spot
5. Let sit for 6-8 weeks and shake each week to really distribute the flavour!
P.S. When your bottle is half full, add a couple new beans and fill it up with rum again. Once you finish that batch remove the vanilla beans and dry out in a dehydrator or low oven. You can then pulverize these babies with cane sugar to make vanilla sugar. Or grind them up and add the vanilla powder to smoothies or baking recipes for extra flavour!