This post is going to help you make your own vanilla extract with supplies available in India.
Using the purest form of extracts is what makes your bakes from ordinary to WOW. I always use and suggest using good quality extracts, oils and flavorings while baking.
The best you can do is avoid store bought essense, which do cost peanuts but is not the real deal!
Here are my preferences for store bought extract
Vanilla extract – Trader Joes Bourbon vanilla extract ( no you dont get them in India, ask a friend or relative to do you the favor )
Almond Extract – McCormick Pure Almond extract , I have found this at Natures Basket. Also few speciality food stores keep it. If you dont, then you might use Wilton Almond extract
LoRanN oils – these are concentrated flavorings available in a variety of flavours. They are awesome! Also available at Natures Basket
Okay lets get down to business!
I get a lot of queries from people who have been baking for a while and even new bakers , where do I get my Vanilla extract from? Well, unfortunately you are not always lucky to get them off the shelf in India. Even if you do- its exhorbitantly priced. So I make my own!
You will need
1 cup Vodka ( Smirn off is fine! )/ 1 cup Bourbon Whiskey ( Jack Daniels) . You can use either, Whiskey will give you a deeper colored extract. Vodka will be on the lighter side.
3 Vanilla pods
1 sterilized glass bottle/jar
Slit the beans all the way , retaining 1/2 ” unslit at the end.
Pour the vodka/bourbon in your bottle
Let it sit for a week in a corner, preferably in a dark corner. ( cupboard may be? ). Give it a nice stir every once a week.
Your gorgeous extract is ready in 6 weeks.
Once you use it up, dont discard the pods. you can either use them directly in your baking by scraping off the “meat” from the beans or you could make vanilla sugar. Or you could refill it with vodka again and add an additional new bean.
Buying Vanilla beans in India
A lot of people and stores source their vanilla beans from Kerala. Well if you know a genuine supplier- good for you! If you dont, you can go ahead and buy from Natures basket under the brand Viva La Delicia . My husband found these at Natures basket , and they are my go to beans until I find someone who could get me the same quality for a cheaper rate.
1 pod costs Rs 45 .
Testing the Pod
A lot of baking supplies stores sell vanilla pods. And most of the time you are bound to get cheated. Either the pods are of inferior quality or they fool you for it being Madagascar pods- yeah right!
Premium quality vanilla beans have a rich, full aroma and are oily to the touch. They should be pliable enough to bend without breaking, and they should be dark brown (almost black). Indian vanilla beans are no less than others. They are very moist and plump. DO not buy dried out beans! You will not be able to get anything out of it.
I have been very happy with these pods I have been purchasing from Natures basket and they are vacuum packed for the added freshness!
What do you do if you are trapped with dried out pods?
If your vanilla beans have dried out, simply add them to warm liquid to draw out the flavor. A dry bean pod added to a mug of hot chocolate or a cup of hot tea results in a delicious experience!
Go ahead with this project , let me know how it goes. Once you make it, you are NEVER going back to buying them! What do you do with the money you save? – buy me some baking goodies yeah!