I am thinking of trying my hand at making my own extract and have found several recipes online using either vodka or brandy and various amounts of vanilla beans. Have you ever tried this? Is there a recipe you prefer? Or, is there a brand of vanilla extract you prefer? It sounds like a pretty easy and fun project that would be relatively inexpensive considering the cost of some extracts on the market.
Yes - In the beginning of my baking career I did indeed make alot of my own vanilla - thinking as you did - it will save money and be better. It is better than bad imitation but never - no matter how many beans you add (to vodka), as vanilla-ish as even good imitation (let alone, great pure vanilla). Vanilla is sort of extracted or perculated (whereas at home, we simply are marinating the beans in the alcohol) and companies like Nielsen Massey use a ton of beans (there is a law how many they have to use - to make it "real" vanilla) and cold extract them into some alcohol and sugar. THIS all said - it is still nice to do -and the resulting vanilla flavored brandy or vodka may not be as heavy hitting as a real vanilla esp. double strength (unless you use a ton of good, fresh vanilla beans - that will be closer) BUT - it is still nice to make it and add it to cakes where you can really subtle vanilla flavor, or douse a fruitcake with it, or use it in soaking syrup for cakes or add a touch to a ganache or fruit salad - So - the short answer is - it is not the same but fun, and good in its own right - (and I keep some vanilla brandy on hand for my fruitcakes and poundcakes that I soak a bit)
I think if you were going to make a great homemade, you would have to use so many vanilla beans that at the end, that would be more expensive too, than just buying a great pure vanilla.
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