Monday, April 1

Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Think Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla actually has Bourbon Whiskey in it? I did too, until I decided to make my own. After a little bit of research, I learned more than I ever intended about Bourbon and its origins.

In the 16th century, the House of Bourbon was a royal membership with French origins whose kings and monarchs ruled over many parts of Europe. They occupied a small Island off of the coast of Madagascar and called it Île Bourbon. This is where a portion of the worlds famed Madagascar vanilla beans are grown. The island has since been renamed Réunion, but still belongs to the French and still produces vanilla beans. Bourbon Whiskey is in fact named after the very same French House that founded Île Bourbon. In the late 1700s, territories in Louisiana, Kentucky and Virginia were given French names to honor Louis XVI for his aid in the American Revolutionary War. Bourbon County, Kentucky (originally Old Bourbon) is where Bourbon whiskey was first produced. Barrels of corn whiskey were sent down the Ohio river with the marking 'Old Bourbon' and in order to distinguish the difference in flavor from the already existing rye whiskey, the name Bourbon stuck.
How's that for a history lesson?

Here's the good news is: Not only can you make your own Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, you can also use Bourbon Whiskey to make it. Most recipes I've seen call for vodka, but being that I am not a fan of vodka, I don't typically keep it stocked in my house. I did, however, have plenty of Maker's Mark.
You need just three things. Madagascar Vanilla Beans, good Bourbon and a glass jar or bottle. I used a ratio of 4 pods to 1 Cup of Bourbon. Try to buy the best vanilla beans available to you. I know they are pricey, but you will save more in the long run not having to buy expensive extract.
Score each pod with a sharp knife and scrape out the beans. Place the beans in the bottom of the jar, then place the pods in the jar and snip them into a few pieces using kitchen scissors. Fill the jar with the bourbon, screw on the lid and place it in a cool, dark place. Try and remember to shake it up a bit everyday and in about 4 weeks, you'll have your very own Homemade Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. Just top off the jar as you use the vanilla and it will last for ages!


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