Back in August I read this blog post and decided to make my own vanilla extract. It sounded so easy - just throw the stuff in a jar, stick it in a cupboard for a few months, and voilà, vanilla extract!
The vanilla beans I ordered online were a great deal, and I've been able to add fabulous flavor to marshmallows and various baked goods with them.
The extract, on the other hand, is taking a little longer than expected to produce results. While the instructions I followed at the top link above said that the initial concoction of alcohol, store-bought vanilla extract, and vanilla beans should produce a useable extract after 6-8 weeks, I found that it was rather weak. Well, weak on vanilla - but still very strong on the alcohol! I have used the extract in a few baked goods since October, but only when I knew it would not greatly affect the outcome.
This slow development of my extract may be due to the slow rate at which I am adding vanilla beans as I use up their seeds in other cooking projects, but I have a feeling that this would not account for the still very powerful alcohol content that was supposed to have faded by now. I have used a combination of vodka and brandy in order to develop a more complex flavor, but perhaps they have just strengthened each other's resolve to dominate the jar...
I will continue to add beans to the jar and let it sit in my cupboard, but I would love any tips about how to assist this development. As I read online, this would make a great gift, and a continuous supply of vanilla extract would be immensely practical, but I'm still pretty far from that goal...any helpful ideas?