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Frugal Tip - Making your own vanilla extract

Tuesday, 28 June 2011  |  Admin

As you all know I like to bake from time to time (probably why I'm not shifting that baby weight quite so easily yet!!!) And when it comes to flavourings I really think you get what you pay for. I've yet to find ANY difference between Morrisons own brand plain flour and the much more expensive branded flour, and I use stork margarine for cakes (cheaper and makes for a lighter, fluffier cake IMO). I also generally use cheaper dark chocolate for cooking with, unless it's something like a dessert. For brownies or chocolate icing etc, the cheapo own brand chocolatewill do fine.
I do draw the line at using vanilla essence. It's manufactured and not terribly pleasant....or maybe I'm just a snob.... But the little bottles of madagascan vanilla that I've been buying from lakeland are pretty expensive at £5.50 for 115ml. Good, but pricey.
Then I came across a recipe in the Ballymaloe cookery book for making your own vanilla extract. I had quite a few old vanilla beans left over from my christmas vanilla sugar making, so I thought it was worth a punt. The end result is yummy - mine has been soaking now for a few months and tastes divine! And all in all would have cost me about £2.50 for the vanilla from vanilla mart and £9 for the vodka, so £11.50 in total for 700ml - less than 1/3 of the price!

700ml bottle of vodka (or rum)
5 vanilla pods
1. Run a sharp knife to lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half.
2. Insert the split vanilla beans into a bottle of vodka or rum. Pour a teeny tiny bit out of the bottle if you need to make space...
3. Shake the bottle now and again when you remember. You can use the extract after 2 months but store in a dark, cool place.
This will keep pretty much forever. You can even top up the bottle with rum or vodka if you're running a little low. Just chuck in another vanilla pod or two to keep up the flavour...

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