How to Make the Best Vanilla Extract – Great Gift Giving
Commercial vanilla extract is usually 35% alcohal and the rest water and propylene glycol. The purpose of the alcohal is most likely for preservative value. 13.5 ounces of vanilla beans are used to make a gallon of normal strength on the grocery shelf kind of extract. This means to make five fold you can do 13.5 ounces of vanilla beans to 25 ounces of alcohal. You can also vary your beans like I do. I order them from all over the world to make a “blend.” Mexican vanilla is outrageously priced because it competes with the “tourist” vanilla beans it becomes not worth the price. Fake vanilla, the clear stuff, is made with resins from trees.
In regards to vanilla beans around the home as a raw material-you can do many other projects. Stick a few beans in your sugar to make “Vanilla sugar.” In fact, if I was making vanilla extract as a gift I would probably package it up with a canister of vanilla sugar. Vanilla beans can also go into honey and permeate that over time.
The way to prepare you vanilla beans for extract and other infusions such as vanilla sugar is to slit them all of the way up so the beans inside are exposed. There is no way to make vanilla extract without alcohal or it would not be called an “extract.” You can, however, focus more on vanilla sugar or honey if your religious preferences forbid any kind of alcohal.