Originally Posted by scp1127
They don't add color, the strength must be to FDA code to call it extract. With the wrong strength, it's just flavored vodka. Real homemade extract is almost black in the jar.
Also, making the correct strengt to call it extract will cost as much as buying it. Using cheap vodka will also make the flavor unpleasant vs. store-bought. To make it correctly costs me about the same as NM vanilla bean paste ($1.00/oz.).
All homemade vanilla extract is flavored vodka (or other alcohol, you can make Rum Vanilla too) . That's what you are doing you are flavoring the vodka with vanilla beans. The longer you let it sit will determine how dark it gets as well as how strong the vanilla flavor will be. Commercial vanilla extract usually has simple syrup (sugar water) added to the extract to give it a sweet aftertaste and some add color to it.
Using "cheap" Vodka is fine as long as it's cheap in price and not in quality. I used McCormick Vodka (second best selling American Vodka) which is quadruple distilled and it only costs about $15 for a 1.75 liter bottle. If it tastes good enough to drink, it's good enough for vanilla. There is a myth that you need to use expensive vodka to make good vanilla. When done it will smell like vanilla flavored vodka because that's what it is, it won't smell the same as commercial brands because there is no added sweetener, which is not needed anyway.
Also be careful if you buy commercial vanilla from Mexico. (FDA does not allow tonka bean extract even in imitation vanilla. Because they contain coumarin, tonka beans do not meet the food safety requirements for sale in the United States under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. These products often are labeled in Spanish Extracto de vainilla or Vainilla. If these products contain tonka beans rather than vanilla beans, they have been imported illegally into the United States, and FDA advises consumers not to purchase or use these products. )
The Vanilla that I made looks darker in the bottle and in the measuring spoon, but does not discolor the frosting to a noticeable point, I took the picture by holding it against the light so you will see it's not as dark as you think.