Thursday, November 10, 2011

Making My Own Vanilla

This is something I have wanted to try for a long time.  The time is finally here.  I just opened my last bottle of Pure Vanilla from Mexico.  I admit, I panicked a little.  Whatever you decide to do after reading this, just promise me one thing....YOU WILL NOT BUY IMITATION VANILLA!  Whether you make your own, buy your own, BUY Pure Vanilla, not imitation.  The imitation leaves a bitter aftertaste, is made from sapwood and coal extracts...yuck.  Stay with the pure, better for us stuff.  :-)  (Since this is a great opportunity, I will also add...try to stay away from artificial coloring and flavoring all together....bad bad is in so much stuff we eat.)

Ok, so do you have 5 minutes?  Let's make some homemade vanilla!

Picture of my new vanilla beans.


When deciding what vanilla bean to buy, there are 2 that stand out to me as the best...
1.  The Mexican Vanilla Bean-has a smooth, strong, rich fragrance and flavor.  But buy from a reputable supplier.  Some suppliers add coumarin which can damage your liver and kidneys.   
2.  Madagascar or Madagascar-bourbon vanilla bean-has a smooth, rich sweet flavor and are the thinnest of the vanilla beans.   

I bought 2 vanilla beans from Whole Foods and paid $11.99.  Then I went on and found out that I can buy 16 Madagascar-bourbon beans for $14.50 and 54 beans for $26.50.  Ouch!!!  Live and learn.

What you need....
3 vanilla beans (split in half lengthwise)
Vodka 80 proof or higher (buy the cheap stuff)
Glass bottle that closes tightly (recyle here and save money)

Split 3 beans lengthwise with a sharp knife on a cutting board, but stop 1 inch from each end so that bean stays together but the centers are split.  

Place in a glass bottle with a tight fitting lid.  Fill with 8 ounces of vodka.  Place in a cool, dark place for at least 6-8 weeks (mine will steep for 1 year, as I don't need any right now).  Shake at least once per week.

Mark your bottle with the date you are making your vanilla...cause....drum roll....for 1 year forward, when you run out just add more vodka.  Your beans will flavor your vodka for 1 year.  Pretty cool huh'?

At the end of the 2 months, it is ready to use.  Leave beans in the bottle.  And remember vanilla is a forever food.  It will not spoil.  Just make sure to store in a dark pantry.

Note:  -You will need 3 vanilla beans per 8 oz of vodka.
-Do not add pure vanilla to hot liquids, the alcohol will evaporate and so will some of the vanilla flavor.
-If you make homemade ice cream with vanilla beans, wash the split bean thoroughly after cooking the ice cream mixture.  Place the cleaned bean in a bowl and cover the bean with either 1-2 cups of granulate cane sugar (not beet!) or 1-2 cups of powdered sugar.  Cover with tight fitting lid and let it rest for 2 weeks.  Use this vanilla sugar in your recipes for an amazing flavor.  1 tbsp of vanilla sugar is equal to 1/4 tsp pure vanilla.  Recycle!!  :-)
-If you want a bolder flavor use spiced run or brandy instead of the vodka.
-Once your vanilla is finished you can pour it into cute bottles and give as Christmas presents with ribbon or bows or from the beginning give as a gift but put a note on the bottle that says "do not open for 2 months."
-I read from another blog that she has had her bottle going for 14 years, she just leaves the beans in there, adding 3 new beans every year and a cup of brandy.  She said its tastes fantastic. 

Happy vanilla making and money saving!  :-)  I will post more after my vanilla beans arrive and I make my first batch. :-)

**Changes/Updates:  I would highly recommend using Organic vodka.  With all of the gmo corn, organic is a smarter choice.

I thought I would show you some recent pictures.  The vanilla extract is beautiful.

The 2 on the left I started brewing November 2011.  The 2 on the right I just started.   Cool, huh'?

Simply beautiful.

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