Have you ever thought about making homemade vanilla extract? I had not – until last weekend. It's supposedly not that hard but is sure ain't cheap, my friends.
What's In A Bottle of Vanilla Extract?
The day after Christmas I started a "green smoothie" regimen and I haven't missed a day since. My smoothies are made of greens, at least 2 fruits, almond milk, stevia and extracts. Super healthy, right? I thought so – until I started looking at what's in extracts these days.
I found a huge collection of Watkins brand extracts at Walmart including, peanut butter. I love peanut butter!!! But when reading the extract ingredients, I discovered that it contains propylene glycol. I have an extensive collection of extracts and most of them contain this stuff.
From the ATSDR, Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry: "Affected Organ Systems: Dermal (Skin), Renal (Urinary System or Kidneys), Respiratory (From the Nose to the Lungs)" [http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=240] As usual, the FDA says it's ''generally recognized as safe'' but it's a thinner or solvent in the paint and plastics industry which doesn't inspire much confidence in me.
Anyhoo … I decided to try making my own and was going to start with vanilla. I went to the grocery store to get some vanilla beans. It cost $8.19 for ONE BEAN. Ouch! So I've ordered some beans and will experiment when they show up.
How To Make A Homemade Extract
The procedure is pretty simple, at least in theory: simply grind up your chosen food/flavor, cover it with alcohol – generally vodka, since it's relatively tasteless, but rum and brandy are fine as well – and wait.
My first mistake: I have a lot of pretty bottles and thought I would use them but the food particles are too big to comfortably fit inside. I used this blue bottle and had to soak it for a couple of days to get out the pieces of coffee beans.
So I had to use widemouth jars – not nearly as pretty, but definitely more practical.
I went to a liquor store and bought the cheapest vodka I could find. This was a problem because I don't drink alcoholic beverages at all – ever. But I figured that vodka is better than propylene glycol.
My 3 Current Extract Experiments
I grated lime rind and added it to the vodka. I love and adore anything lime and I've never seen any lime extract so this will be my favorite, if it works. When using citrus fruit, we have to be careful not to get the white part into our extract because it's bitter.
2. Chocolate covered coffee beans
I thought that might be tasty so I broke the beans up into small pieces and covered them with the vodka.
3. Peanuts (or peanut butter taste?)
Lastly, since I love peanut butter so much, I ground up some raw peanuts into small pieces – being careful not to turn them into peanut butter – and added vodka.
All three jars are in a dark closet right now. When I think about it, I shake them up and they have to stay in the dark for at least one month. I started my experiment on February 9 so I will check them out on March 9 or later.
Possibilities Of My Extract Experiments
Either I wasted a lot of money – or I will have some interesting new flavors to add to my smoothies. I'll keep you updated.