One of the main tenets of a whole foods diet is to prepare and consume foods in their most basic form. For example, quick-cooking oats are better than the instant oatmeal packets, rolled oats are better than quick-cooking oats, and steel-cut oats are better than rolled oats. Baking a cake from flour, eggs, and butter is obviously best, but using a boxed mix is usually better than buying a pre-made cake from the store.
An item that I assumed was already in its original state is vanilla extract; I mean, it’s called pure vanilla extract for a reason, right? Nope! In the whole foods kitchen, everything can always be broken down just a little more. In addition to being smoother, tastier and more vanilla-y than the commercial kind, homemade vanilla extract is actually less expensive! Any time I can save money AND eat better is a definitely winning situation.
Here’s the cost breakdown:
$44.95 for 1 lb (approx. 108) beans = $0.42 per bean
$0.42 per bean x 80 beans needed for recipe = $33.60 for the vanilla beans
2 1.75L bottles vodka = $24.00
1 gallon jar = $14.50
Total = 74.10 for 1 gallon vanilla extract
or $0.56 per ounce
McCormack’s Pure Vanilla Extract, 16 ounces = $12.49
or $0.78 per ounce
I was really surprised! Of course, your exact cost will differ depending on local prices, and will be higher if you need to purchase storage bottles, but I suspect it will still be worth it.
Makes 1 gallon
Some notes: the vodka can be the cheap-o, embarrassed-to-be-seen-in-public-with kind, but the vanilla beans should be the best you can afford. I bought mine through Olive Nation, as they had the best price, free shipping, and were recommended by other blogs. I am very pleased with my purchase- the beans were moist and sticky, as they should be, and not at all like the dried twigs you see at the grocery store for $11.95 a bean.
3/4 pound vanilla beans (about 80 beans)
1 gallon vodka (2 1.75L bottles)
1 large airtight jar (make sure it holds just a little more than a gallon, to account for the liquid displaced by the beans)
Strain the extract through a colander/sieve lined with a coffee filter or tea towel.
This post is linked up to Fat Tuesday