Recipe: Bourbon Vanilla Extract

By: Jase Luttrell
Posted: 27 August 2014
Category: Recipes Comments View Comments


A ubiquitous ingredient in nearly every sweet recipe from cakes to bread, vanilla extract ranges in quality and price but it's surprisingly easy to make at home with two ingredients and six weeks' worth of patience and restraint.

Homemade vanilla extract is made by infusing a liquor with all or part of a vanilla bean. The liquor you use will impact the flavour and should always be at least 40% abv (alcohol by volume or 80 proof). This recipe uses bourbon because of its complex flavour and dark colour. Specifically, I use Burnside Bourbon from Eastside Distilling in Portland, Oregon, because of its natural sweet finish and light body. A similar bourbon would be Bulleit or any bourbon that has honey or strong fruit notes rather than a taste profile that is characterised as bold, peppery, or spicy. The idea is that you want the vanilla to stand out but also round out the flavours.

Recipe: Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Makes: 2 jars

  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 cups of bourbon, such as Burnside Bourbon

  1. Cut the vanilla pod in half. Slice open one of the halves lengthwise with a small paring knife. Drag the edge of the knife along the soft interior of the pod to scrape out some of the seeds.
  2. Place the seeds and the halved pod in a small sterilised jar with a well fitting lid that can hold one cup of liquid. Fill the jar with the bourbon, making sure the pod is covered completely (top it up with more than a cup, if necessary), and tighten the lid. Give the jar a good shake to loosen any of the clumped seeds. Repeat the process with the other half of the vanilla pod, the rest of the bourbon, and a second jar.
  3. Place both jars in a cool, dark place for six weeks.
  4. After six weeks the vanilla extract will be ready to use. You can leave the pod in the jar to let the flavours develop further as the extract will last for a year, though you'll likely use it all in a matter of months in baked goods, over ice cream, and in your morning coffee. The second jar will make a great homemade gift - or keep it for yourself.

Recipe: Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Tags: #arts_and_culture, #portland, #whisky

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