Make your own sugar free vanilla extract: as easy as child’s play.
Oh boy. Vanilla extract. Sugar free. Homemade. Heaven!
Who doesn’t love the aroma and flavouring that vanilla infuses into food and drink? Not to mention the scent it gives to creams, lotion, perfumes, car fresheners, candles, herbal oils and so on. There is something about this sweet smell that just makes you feel gooey soft and satisfied.
In use for centuries, it is well known that the sweet fragrance is aphrodisiac and calming, while the vanillin contained in the pods has antibactirial, anti fungal and antioxidant properties to name but a few.
That, of course, applies to the natural vanilla bean. Most ‘vanilla’ scented products available today unfortunately don’t actually contain any vanilla at all, but just a synthetic mix that mimics the real thing. I say unfortunately, because when we inhale these fragrances, we just don’t realise they can be harmful to both our lungs and the environment. But that’s another story. When it comes to vanilla used in food, there are also options, but essentially the two choices are natural or fake.
When vanilla isn’t vanilla
Nowadays, ‘vanilla’ as a cooking ingredient is sold everywhere and there are lots of choices at a variety of prices. So how do you decide whether to buy vanilla beans (pods), vanilla extract, vanilla paste, vanilla flavouring or vanilla essence? This clearly depends on what the recipe actually calls for or how you want to use it. For example, I wouldn’t dream of using anything other than the bean and seeds for panna cotta or custard, but for a more subtle cake mix flavour I would use my own extract.
You can’t really go wrong with a vanilla bean, providing it is fresh and plump. As for the other options available for sale, they might contain real vanilla, they might not, or they might be lab-produced with only a tiny bit of the real ingredient added to them. Just check the label and you will see what I mean. The one thing they will all have in common is sugar in some form or other. They might even contain hidden carbs. So it is really up to you which you decide to buy. But if it’s extract that you need, the natural, home-made option is by far the best.
Why bother to make your own sugar free vanilla extract?
Why not? It’s cheaper. Natural. Quick. Easy. Have a go and you will never shop for vanilla extract again.
Plus what’s more is that you can use my vanilla extract to make a scrumptious sugar free vanilla paste too!
All you have to do is buy the best vanilla beans you can afford and some ethanol or vodka, dig out a sealable glass bottle (I use recycled 125-150ml medicine bottles) and you’re almost there!
My advice in terms of buying vanilla beans is to avoid supermarkets and shops like the plague. Instead, go online and you will find huge, plump, organic vanilla beans at a fraction of high street prices.
Just follow my super easy recipe and enjoy!
- cut the beans in half so they fit into your chosen container and score them lengthways so as to expose the seeds.
- put them in a sealable glass container (I used a 125ml amber glass medicine bottle) and cover them with vodka or ethanol, shake and store away form heat and sunlight.
- Shake the bottle every now and then. The extract will be ready to use after 6-8 weeks.
It can be kept indefinitely and topped up as and when with alcohol and more vanilla beans.
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