Alcohol-free Vanilla Extract




Introduction: Alcohol-free Vanilla Extract

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Vanilla extract is a wonderful ingredient added into nearly all classical American desserts. Cakes, cookies, muffins, to name a few. But did you know that the vanilla extract in your kitchen is made up of at least 35% alcohol? This is because alcohol is wonderful in extracting the flavor from herbs and botanics, and vanilla beans are no exception. However, if for whatever reason, you cannot or do not want so much alcohol in your vanilla extract, there is an alternative!

Slightly thicker in viscosity, alcohol-free vanilla extract is a perfect substitute to add into all your favorite baked goods. But if not alcohol, then what? Our surrogate will be Vegetable Glycerin! Let's get started steeping!

Step 1: Materials

For this project, you will need:

        a paring knife (fancy word for small knife)

        3 vanilla beans

        12 ounce glass container for storage

        10 ounces of vegetable glycerin (via online retailers or Whole Foods)

    Note on vegetable glycerin: please make sure it is food grade, if you are unsure ask an expert. I used Now Solutions 100% pure Vegetable Glycerin that is fine to consume internally as well as externally as a multi-purpose moisturizer. What exactly is vegetable glycerin? It is made from vegetable oil and is a by-product of soap manufacturing. The FDA has classified it as a carbohydrate. Its wonderfully popular in foods because of it's sweet taste and the fact that it has less calories than sugar, but for topical use, glycerin absorbs moisture from the air around it. Pretty magical stuff, really.

    Because of this, glycerin in any form, either animal or vegetable is a great substitute for alcohol in botanical extractions and herbal essences.

      Let's get started!

        Step 2: Preparing Beans

        Take three standard-length vanilla beans and cut them lengthwise down the center. Take one half and open it so the tiny pods are have more surface area to be extracted by the glycerin.

        Place all 3 halves (or six total) lengths of bean and place them into a glass container.

        Step 3: Adding Glycerin

        Pour in 10 ounces of your vegetable glycerin into the glass container. Close lid, and shake slightly to make sure beans are well incorporated

        Step 4: Steeping

        Allow your vanilla beans to steep in the glycerin for a minimum of 8 weeks, after that you can use some of it and allow the rest to continue to steep, or use it all.

        The best thing about the vanilla beans is that you can reuse them in another cycle of gylcerin steeping. After about two uses, though, I would recommend using new beans because their potency may wane.




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          16 Discussions

          Clearly you don't realise that Glycerine is actually a sugar alcohol. It's listed as a carbohydrate for some reason but it's still pure alcohol.

          So if you are the caretaker of a liver transplant patient you can't use the glycerin either!

          Contrary to popular belief, you actually keep a vast majority of the alcohol in there, just the VOCs of it get lost. In fact, at best, without scorching the flavor, the most you can expect to lose from the vodka extract form is about 25-30% of the alcohol when you boil it.

          Depends on the length of the boil/bake. If it were simmered for 15 minutes, only 40% of the alcohol is retained. In any event, the amount of alcohol in a tbsp of extract isn't going to make you drunk and you would have to be extremely sensitive to it for it to register.

          Hello, I have some of this extract, and it's well steeped for several months. It doesn't taste very good. It has a wood-like flavor; any suggestions?

          Just wondering.....If I use a tablespoon of this "extract" in recipe for 12 cupcakes, will it AFFECT the texture or taste of the cupcakes because of the presence of glycerin?

          Alcohol will be gone from baked goods, but I use a lot of vanilla in ice cream. It has advantages there, in helping to soften the ice cream a little. My Penzeys double strength vanilla is 61% alcohol, and costs $20 a bottle for 4 ounces though, so I have made my own with vodka and the nicest beans, and it is just as good as the Penzeys, and a whole heck of a lot less expensive! I also made vanilla with brandy, and OMG is that ever good in coffee!

          Nice. Wondered how that is done.
          Some interesting fact tho,
          Glycerine is an alcohol...

          1 reply

          That's actually really nice to know because while it's not something you can get drunk on and it won't raise the ABV percentage in things you add the results of this ible to, it still extracts just as well as the usual suggestion, vodka. Thanks.

          We make our own Vanilla and I was wondering why you don't use a dark bottle

          Nice Ible :-) You could try boiling off the alcohol, but you need to boil for about 2.5 hours to reduce the original alcohol content to 5% of what it was, by which time the vanilla extract would be a mere memory in the pan. It's a myth that alcohol evaporates quickly during cooking. I use traditional extract, but sometimes I don't want the harsh alcohol taste. so I use the seeds, and then place the empty pod in a large jar of caster sugar, which gives beautifully fragranced sugar for baking and coffee.

          Thank you thank you thank you! I did some with alcohol a couple months ago...and honestly can't bring myself to even use it because I don't drink and can't seem to justify it. But I have a bag of vanilla and a quart of glycerin right here! I am going to do this tomorrow! Thanks again! :)

          I have been wanting to make extracts and really didn't like the idea of using vodka! I really need to try this now!