Even though Garten is partial to Nielsen-Massey’s extract, by her own admission, homemade vanilla is still one of her favorite ingredients, per YouTube. To make your own, she recommends taking a jar both wide and deep enough to accommodate vanilla beans without bending them. She then says to start with enough beans to fill the jar before adding enough vodka to completely cover them. Keep your jar in a cool, dark place, and you will be rewarded with homemade extract in just over a month’s time, although Garten says its best to wait six months. The low-maintenance extract needs to stay in that dark and cool environment; it also needs to be topped off with fresh vanilla beans and vodka to keep supplies steady.
So, if homemade vanilla is Garten’s favorite ingredient, why does she keep commercial vanilla on hand? “While I do make my own vanilla extract, I don’t assume that people at home have homemade vanilla on hand, so I use store-bought vanilla in my recipes,” the celebrity chef tells fans via Ask Ina. “I always try to use ingredients that people can find at the grocery store.”