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    Vanilla extract

Food Percentage of DRI per 100 grams

When sourcing vanilla extract, we want to make sure it is made with real vanilla beans, no artificial flavor and no sugar or additives. The pure vanilla flavor is perfect the way mother nature created it, and there is no reason to add any sweetener or synthetic ingredients.  

Making your own vanilla extract is an even better option. While the price tag of vanilla beans can be shocking, the flavor they add to desserts and drinks is simply divine. And if you save the scraped-out pods after using, you will find that they have plenty of more flavor to offer. Spent vanilla pods can be used to make home made vanilla extract. It is incredibly simple and requires only two ingredients to make a wonderful extract to add to desserts, smoothies and sweets, or a perfect edible gift.

Ingredients:

4 Spent vanilla bean
per 1 cup vodka. 

Vodka gives the most neutral flavor. But you can use other acohols such as rum, bourbon, brandy or whiskey if you like.

Place the vanilla beans in a sterilized mason jar, ideally one that is tall enought to hold the whole vanilla pod without needing to fold or bend it. I like using a clear glass mason jar so it is easy to see the color transformation. The ratio is roughly 4 used vanilla beans per cup of alcohol. Top up with alcohol, making sure all parts of the pods are covered. Add a bit of wax paper under the lid, then close the tight and keep in a dark, dry place for 4 weeks to steep. Letting it sit longer would greatly improve the taste, so letting it steep for a year would be even better if you have the patience. Mark the bottle with the date of production so you know how long it has been steeping. Once in a while, give it a shake. As the vanilla starts to infuse the alchohol, you will see the color turn dark. As long as the vanilla beans are kept submerged beneath the alcohol, this extract can last for years, and get even better with age. 

If you want to make a slightly more luxurious vanilla extract you can use the whole, unused vanilla beans to make an amazing product and gift that can be used in two ways. Follow the same procedure as above, using whole, intact vanilla pods, and let steep for  4 weeks to a year in the alcohol. Whenever you want to add vanilla flavor to your food creations, use the liquid vanilla extract. OR, remove one of the vanilla beans, cut off one of the ends, and use your fingers to squeeze out the amazing alcohol infused seeds. 

Consider making a "spiced vanilla extract" by adding other ingredients to the alcohol and vanilla beans. For example you could add allspice, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, star anise, or orange peel. 

Alcohol is a natural preservative so this vanilla extract will last for years, as long as the vanilla pods and any other ingredients are submerged in the alcohol.     

When making vanilla extract the quality of the vanilla beans does not have to be the best. You can get away with the cheaper, grade B option. 

If you are looking for alcohol free vanilla extract, beware. The most commonly used ingredient is glycerine which is a form of sugar alcohol that the body can not fully absorb. Also it is often genetically modified and made using animal fat.

If you want to avoid alcohol, rather than going for the glycerine extract, the better alternative would be to use vanilla in it´s whole form, by scraping the seeds from the pod. You can also buy vanilla powder which is just made with ground up vanilla beans.