I've wanted to try making my own gluten-free vanilla at home for years. My friend, Wardeh, from www.GNOWFLINS.com, has recently inspired me to start doing this! After doing some other research on the internet, here is what I've come up with to make my own gluten-free vanilla, a never-ending supply to have on hand at all times. All you will need are two simple ingredients: vanilla beans, and bourbon or potato vodka.
Since I don't prefer the taste of alcohol, I'm pretty naive about varieties of liquors and alcoholic beverages. I did learn recently that vodka is usually made from grain, so that isn't gluten-free. However, most liquor stores also sell "potato mash vodka", which, simply put, is vodka made from potatoes. The local liquor store I went into had at least six different brands of potato vodka. The clerk told me that if alcohol is made from something other than grains, the bottles are required to state from what the mash is made - potato, corn, barley, etc.
Pure Mexican vanilla is amazing, but it is difficult to know whether it is pure or not. When our family was in Mexico a few years ago on a family missions trip with other families from our church, we were very excited to buy Mexican vanilla inexpensively - a large bottle for only $5. However, we couldn't guarantee what was in it, besides alcohol that had soaked vanilla beans. We had no way to know if we were getting a product that was "watered down" or contained something harmful.
If you purchase Mexican vanilla and can learn more about it, be careful not to buy any that contains tonka bean extract, which contains coumarin; this is often used because it has a similar taste to real vanilla extract. Coumarin has caused liver damage in lab animals and is banned in foods in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration.
I did learn a few years ago even Trader Joe's brand of vanilla contains glycerin as a filler. While the glycerin isn't harmful, it is an unnecessary ingredient for which you will be paying, making the vanilla more costly per ounce. Vanilla from the U.S. can also contain undesirable chemicals, so making your own vanilla is a great idea!
You may use vanilla beans leftover from recipes that you've made, by simply rinsing them off and adding them to the bourbon or potato vodka. You can also use a new bean, in order to add the fragrant vanilla seeds. Whenever your vanilla starts to gets low, just top off the bottle with a little bourbon and add fresh vanilla beans about once every year or two. I've been using these vanilla beans from Amazon.com.
Cover the beans completely with bourbon or vodka, at least 1 cup. Shake the sealed jar and store it in a dark, cool place, away from sunlight, for two months or longer. Every few days, give it a good shake. After two weeks, you will have a mild vanilla extract and the flavor will continue to get stronger the longer it sits. It may take as long as four months to turn dark and have a rich flavor. Continue to add more vanilla beans and bourbon so that you have a never-ending supply.
Commercial vanilla extract usually has simple syrup (sugar water) added to the extract to give it a sweet aftertaste. You can do this if you want, but there really is no need to add the extra sugar to your diet.
You can also make vanilla sugar by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar of white, granulated sugar. This is a great way to infuse the sugar with vanilla flavor for baking, as long as you aren't in weight-loss mode or struggle with diabetes.
If you are planning on giving away bottles of homemade vanilla for Christmas gifts, you should probably plan on starting them no later than August or September, to give them plenty of time to get ready.
Other extracts I enJOY making:
Hi! I'm Julieanne!