My favorite pressure cooker discovery yet-Pressure Cooker Vanilla Extract! Rich, dark, aromatic extract in minutes instead of months!
I’m completely giddy and googly eyed over what I’ve got planned for this week! I’ve had this idea written down in my “awesome idea to get to when life isn’t insane” section of my notebook since I posted my recipe for Vanilla Extract. Although life is no less insane and hectic (like- when will the words, “I’m so bored” ever come out of my mouth again!), I’ve finally buckled down and checked off this section from my notebook.
Here it is my friend’s, Electric Pressure Cooker Extract Week! Each day I’ll feature one of my top 6 favorite extracts to make in my favorite kitchen appliance, the Electric Pressure Cooker!
To kick it off, I’m gonna return to where it all began: PRESSURE COOKER VANILLA EXTRACT. Dark, beautiful, aromatic, heavenly vanilla extract that can be made in less than an hour in the pressure cooker vs the traditional method of vanilla beans soaking in vodka for 2-6 months in the back of your pantry. I’m 100% impatient and behind schedule about 98% of the time, so Vanilla Extract under an hour just speaks to my soul!
Here’s a quick video to show you just how quick and easy you can whip up amazing vanilla extract plus a little comparison to the “be patient and wait” Traditional method. I think the color difference alone will convince you but even the smell of my pressure cooker vanilla was much stronger than the 6 month old traditional jar. Check it out and then share it with all your suspicious friends!
For this post, I’m gonna cover my most frequently asked questions regarding pressure cooker extract. To read my endearing story about how Pressure Cooker Vanilla Extract came to be, you can return to the original post here. Now, in no particular order, let’s dive into those questions!
Why do you prefer to make vanilla extract in a Mason jar vs directly in the pressure cooker pot?
I’ve got a few reasons:
1 – Make a little or make a lot! You have the choice between making 1 pint of extract or up to 3 pints in a 6 quart pressure cooker.
2 – Making vanilla in a jar with a “fingertip tight” lid helps prevent the alcohol from evaporating from your extract which means your alcohol percentage will remain nice and high. This is important for 2 reasons, 1) a higher percentage of alcohol means the vanilla flavor will continue to extract even more flavor over time, and 2) higher alcohol percentage creates a more antimicrobial environment for safer long term storage. Both of these factors were a big deal for me!
3 – Having a lid on the jar prevents condensation from dripping into your extract while cooking which would dilute your alcohol (lower percentage of alcohol = less extraction overtime, dilution in taste, and shorter life span)
4 – I love that after my extract is done cooking and has cooled, I can leave the beans in the jar, tighten the lid and pop it into the cupboard. Easy Peasy!
5 – The lid keeps your alcohol from extracting other food smells from your pressure cooker because vanilla extract + last night’s roast = yuck and ewww gross.
*To prevent the incredible disappointment of a jar breaking under pressure, always use canning quality jars like Mason or Kerr and even consider using a new jar, not one that has been used for canning many times over the years.
What supplies do I need to make pressure cooker vanilla extract?
Not much! Mason jars, kitchen shears, vanilla beans, vodka, and optionally these amazing Mason jar pourable lids. My one complaint of them though is the seal that sometimes stretches out or goes missing. I’ve recently discovered these Brew Armor lids and I want to buy 100 of them and give them to everybody for Christmas! Just 2 parts that are super easy to clean and keep track of and they seal off great!
Can I use cheap vodka?
Yes, but I don’t use the cheapest and here’s why. Pricier vodka means cleaner taste which results in faster, more amazing vanilla extract. However, if you want to make it with the cheapest vodka, just plan on letting it hang out longer in your cupboard for a richer, vanilla taste. I’m partial to red label Smirnoff. Rich Lum, AKA Famous Instant Pot Master Chef (have you heard of him) often times uses Tito’s brand vodka which is pricier but has a very clean taste so the vanilla can shine through. I’ve also heard many praise Costco’s Kirkland Signature Vodka, which I’ve never tried, but has excellent reviews.
Where do you find decently priced vanilla beans?
I hope one day I can update this post with a better answer, but for the moment, there is a serious shortage in vanila beans so the prices have gone way up. I’ve ordered from several companies and my favorite beans come from this Frontier brand that can be ordered from Amazon or Vitacost. I also love Beanilla and Amadeus-their quality and customer service is exquisite! I’ve seen other people recommend Costco, Sam’s Club, and various vendors on Amazon.
What’s the best type of bean to use?
Across the board, the most commonly recommended beans for extract are Madagascar Vanilla Beans, Grade B. Grade A beans will work, but they are typically more expensive and some believe they don’t extract as well. Mexican and Tahitian beans are also quite popular and I’m in love with the extract these Uganda Beans made for me!
How do I store my Vanilla Extract?
Store extract in a cool, dark place. I keep mine in the cold storage room in my basement, but the back of a cupboard or pantry, as long as it’s away from the oven and lights, will work great.
What is the shelf life of Pressure Cooker Vanilla Extract?
When done in a jar with a loose fitting lid, your alcohol percentage should stay high. This means when properly stored (as discussed in the above question), the life of your vanilla can be infinite.
Do I have to use alcohol to make Vanilla Extract?
Nope! Here is a food grade glycerin version!
Can I use different types of alcohol?
Absolutely. I have experimented with bourbon and rum and I thought they smelled amazing! Keep in mind the taste of bourbon and rum will come through more than vodka, of which I wasn’t exactly a fan. However, for some people and certain recipes, that is exactly what they want.
How many beans should I use?
I have tried everything from 3 to 10 beans per cup of vodka and finally settled on my ideal of 3-5 beans per 1 cup of vodka.
How soon will my Vanilla Extract be ready to use?
You could use it that same day. However, after a week or 2, the alcohol smell will mellow significantly and the vanilla taste and aroma will be more intense.
How did you settle on 30 minutes for the cook time?
I experimented with times from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. My experience was that I didn’t have much difference in taste for anything after 30 minutes, but the breakdown of the vanilla bean was more pronounced at 60 minutes leaving the extract quite hazy. So 30 minutes it is!
Is it okay to cook with alcohol in a pressure cooker?
I questioned several engineers, the health department, and the Extension Services before I felt comfortable doing just that. After I posted the recipe, I was met with a lot of questions about it. Long story short, I would never ever ever do this with a stovetop pressure cooker or anywhere near an open flame. Always, always allow for a full natural release so you’re not releasing alcohol vapor into the air and make it in a Mason jar with a lid to decrease the amount of alcohol vapor that could be released. If you want more information on the subject, email me and I can hook you up with research an engineer did for me.
Why does my extract smell really strong of alcohol?
First off, any pure Vanilla Extract will have a bit of alcohol smell and taste. For this pressure cooker method, your extract may still smell strongly of vodka right after you make it (especially if you use a cheaper vodka). I suggest letting it sit for 1-2 weeks and then give it another whiff. The alcohol smell should have mellowed and the vanilla smell should be lovely and rich. If not, throw it back in the pressure cooker for another 30 minutes.
Why do I want to make my own?
Because you can! And you can make it in the world’s greatest appliance – the Electric Pressure Cooker/AKA Instant Pot. Plus homemade vanilla extract is just plain incredible. For me, it’s a truer, more rich vanilla flavor and depending on where you buy your supplies, it can be more cost effective. It also makes the best gift ever! A homemade bottle of vanilla extract with a custom label and pretty bottle is the ultimate gift for any occasion.
I hope that covers it! If I’ve missed anything, please leave your question in the comments and I will add it to the post. Beanilla is a great source for questions and has absolutely amazing customer service. Also, I recently ran into this article, and found it to be a gold mine of information.
Now get ready for a super exciting week of all my favorite extracts that I’ve made in my pressure cooker. PS: I’m saving the best for last! But I’ll give you a clue in case you’re going peach canning crazy right now. Save those peach pits! Throw them in a storage bag and toss them in your freezer. You’ll thank me later, I promise!
Finally, a shout out to my Hawaiian friend, Rich Lum, a kind and classy sort of guy, who spreads a contagious love for cooking incredible food for friends and family to thousands of people. He’s done so much for me by sharing his experience and knowledge of making vanilla extract in the pressure cooker for which I’m extremely grateful. The wit and humor of this man is unmatched. Seriously, if you haven’t had the pleasure of a run in with Rich on Instant Pot facebook, just search his name and marvel at his delicious creations. He created a Teriyaki Salmon for my blog as well as an incredible fish taco recipe for me and Cami’s Master the Electric Pressure Cooker cookbook. You rock Rich!
Pressure Cooker Vanilla Extract
Pressure Cooker Vanilla Extract! Rich, dark, aromatic extract in minutes instead of months!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes High Pressure
- Total Time: 7 minute
- 6-10 Grade B Madagascar vanilla beans
- About 2 cups Smirnoff Vodka 80 proof (40% alcohol) or Food Grade Vegetable Glycerin
- Using a sharp pointed knife or kitchen shears, cut each bean in half and then split in half lengthwise leaving about an inch still connected. If beans are too dry to split, cut them into 1 inch pieces.
- Place the vanilla beans in a pint size Mason jar and add vodka or glycerin, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Top with a canning lid and ring and barely tighten.
- Add 1 cup of water to the pressure cooker pot and place trivet inside. Put the Mason jar on the trivet. Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes.
- When cooking is complete, use a natural release.
- Carefully remove the Mason jar, swirl it lightly to release more vanilla seeds from the pod, and place on a cooling rack overnight.
- Once cooled, top with a pourable lid and use in all your favorite recipes that call for vanilla extract.
- Caution: Never make Extract in a stovetop pressure cooker or near an open flame. My recipes are written for electric pressure cookers only. Always use a Natural Release, never a quick release.
- Alcohol smell may be strong at first but will diminish over a week or two. If still overpowering at that point, return to the pressure cooker for another 30 minutes.
- When vanilla extract is gone, let the beans air dry, then add to sugar for vanilla infused sugar.
- The pressure cooker will fit up to three jars at a time, so feel free to double or triple the recipe.