Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vanilla Extract

I like making stuff. During the winter holidays, we do some baking and always go through lots of vanilla, so after seeing several bloggers make their own, I decided to join the fun.


Vanilla beans come from an orchid. It is originally, like pumpkins, corn and turkeys, a "New World" food. It can be grown in most tropical regions, and is now grown throughout the world. Madagascar has in recent years taken over as the world's production leader.I'm afraid that vanilla bean production is a labor intensive job. It takes many steps to get it to market, including needing nine months on the orchid plant!


I bought 25 Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. They were soft and pliable.

I carefully split them and then took a butter knife and scraped out as much of the caviar (goo) as I could. I then put the goo and the chopped up pods into one quart canning jars. The next step is to fill the jars with either vodka or rum. I chose vodka. The alcohol extracts the vanilla flavor, and mostly cooks off when you bake.


After pouring in the vodka, I needed to find a nice, dark cupboard in which to store these jars for at least six weeks. I take them out three or four times each day and give them a good shaking. I found a web site that sells four ounce amber jars. Sometime in August, I'll strain the vanilla extract and pour it into the small jars. I luckily have a live-in artist who might be cajoled into coming up with a label for the jars. In the meantime, I will start making my gift list. Hmmmm, who has been naughty this year?




28 comments:

Susan said...

Naughty or nice, hmmmm, that depends on who gets the bounty! lol

Don, is there anything that can't do? That looks pretty easy though. I just might try that project myself. I can think of a couple of people that would like to receive it as a gift.

I wonder how you make the non-alcoholic version? That's the kind I buy at Trader Joe's.

Susan said...

Well, I meant to say "Is there anything that you can't do?" I'm going to answer my own question--no, there isn't!

RiverBend Farm said...

Well now..how interesting is that? I learn something new everyday.

Mount Belly Mama said...

I will never complain about vanilla extract being too expensive ever again. Instead I'll be thinking of those lovely people in Madagascar using their lovely hands to make that lovely bottle. :)

Kimberly said...

I used some vanilla bean yesterday in the strawberry jam I was canning. I'd bought them for extract and a bottle of vodka, but forgot where I'd seen directions on amounts and times. Guess I'd better get busy now!

Goat Creek Grandma said...

I want to try this! :) I think your right about it being a great gift. Any suggestions as to where one can get a good buy on beans?

Thank you,
Debbie

Mel said...

I've actually made homemade vanilla before with rum, but recently read an article saying it can be made with grain alcohol as well. I was shocked to find that some stores do carry grain alcohol...

Paige said...

Don:

I made homemade vanilla this past year as christmas gifts and kept 2 little bottles for myself. I sliced open the bean and then dropped it into the jar and left them in! All I do now is add some vodka when it starts to get low. Baking with homemade vodka is just short of heavenly!

lesleyanne said...

yummy!! i can't wait to taste and bake with it, delicious. maybe you can make some soap with it? maybe?

Loring Wirbel said...

I have never heard of vanilla vodka. This is exciting, I want to try it!

Loring Wirbel said...

No, cancel that - the vodka part. When we stopped in Jamaica in April, we went to the Applewood Estate and came back with scads of rum. (Yo ho, I've often been tipsy of late.) I'll take some of the Reserve Rum and go find me some of them there Madagascar beans. Thanks Don, I'm on a mission now.

julie king said...

very interesting!!!! how many beans did you put in each jar? i may have to try this!

so nice to find a new post here when i come visit!

Green Bean said...

Awesome!! I love that idea.

Mandie said...

I am sure you will enjoy it! I still have a vodka bottle with vanilla beans in them, can't wait to use that in the baking season.

Nina said...

its even better if you use bourbon. I made vodka vanilla for years...but if you look at some of the pricier vanillas they are bourbon...made it so delicious...it really adds a nice depth to everything you use it in.

Ginnie said...

Vanilla is one of my favorite smells/flavors in the whole wide world, Don. I can't believe you've found yet another thing to do...as if you don't have enough to do already!

Country Girl said...

I am due to make some more. I shook mine once a day and let it sit for 3 months. I plan to make for x-mas presents this year too. Fun & easy, the way I like it!

Bob Johnson said...

Cool, who knew. I discovered a new drink thanks to my oldest daughter's boyfriend when they were out for the wedding, a Vodka slime, one ounce vodka, part lime and part seven, went down so smooth.

freefalling said...

Okay.
So now I want to see you grow the orchid!

Re said...

I love vanilla so found this v interesting. Thanks

cindy said...

First time post on your site but a reader for a long time.

I enjoy your blog. I always learn something from you. My husband and I are starting to farm our land and you have given us many great ideas!
Thanks

laura said...

Vanilla is my favorite--smell and taste, more than lemon, more than garlic ...
Vanilla vodka--genius!
I've made limoncello (and often give it as a gift, since people clamor for it) and like espresso vodka (my brother got me onto that!), but vanilla vodka: pure heaven!!
You are a Renaissance man, Don.

mrsnesbitt said...

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm this is the type of recipe I like...and I have some vanilla in the house!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

granny said...

Hi ! after reading this post I went straight to the kitchen and made a batch! Thankyou for the information :0)I have an award for you over at my blog if you would like to go pick it up..I enjoy your blog very much,Kind regards,Granny.

Astrid said...

I cannot sleep at the moment so I am surfing the World Wide Web.....
....erm....it is too bad I am not around to taste this goody.....maybe one time I will be so lucky to taste it in some things you baked.
I read the story about the butchering the chickens at farm of the Amish family, I wonder how they taste (the chicken I mean, NOT the family), I do hope that the Barnevelder Kip did NOT get butchered, they 'give' great eggs don't they??
Don have a great time next week with G&N being at your place, it will be lots of fun.

Stiggy said...

Did someone say Bourbon!?!?

Woohoo!

Send it my way matey!

:D

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