Vanilla is one of the most complex spices in existence making it the second most expensive spice after saffron. Besides being called for in almost every baking recipe, vanilla is also used for medicine, aromatherapy, and getting rid of odors.
Making your own homemade vanilla could not be any easier, plus you save money and end up with a quality vanilla with impeccable taste . These also make great gifts!
1 ounce :: Grade B Vanilla Beans (roughly 6-10 beans)
8 ounces :: Vodka, Rum or Bourbon
Choosing your vanilla beans: You can find vanilla beans in the bulk section at most grocery stores. You can also order vanilla beans online in bulk online. A good source is Beanilla.com. You want to choose Grade B if you can find them as they have a lower water content, which is perfect for making extracts, and they are also cheaper. The Madagascar and Mexican Vanilla Beans are my favorite ones to purchase.
You can tell the Grade B vanilla bean is skinnier and does not have as much water. This will make for a stronger vanilla with fewer beans needed. The alcohol content in vanilla needs to be at least 35% so that is why grade b is recommended.
Step 1 :: Slice vanilla pods open
Step 2 :: Put vanilla beans in glass container, preferably dark glass, and fill with liquor of choice.
Step 3 :: Let sit in a cool, dark place for at least 3 months (preferably 6 months) before using. Shake every few weeks if you think about it.
Step 4 (optional) :: Strain vanilla, and place in small jars to give for gifts. You can place a few beans in each jar if you want
- I suggest putting a label with the date your vanilla was started
- Flavor will deepen and mature the longer it ages
- Some of the best extract is when it has aged for 6+ months
- Shelf life of vanilla is about a year
- I suggest storing in dark glass bottles for at least the 3-6 months you are making the extract, but I used clear glass for this demonstration.
You will find corn syrup, water and natural flavors in most store-bought, even “pure” vanilla. Make sure you read the label.
How can you call a product pure with an additive like corn syrup. A lot of companies will add corn syrup to make it taste better faster. This way they can get a product out of the factory and increase their revenues.
Water is often added to dilute it and be able to produce larger quantities.
Don’t even get me started with natural flavors. Popular ones used in making vanilla are Lignin and Castoreum. Castoreum, approved by the FDA for natural flavoring is the exudate from the castor sacs from beavers urine. If you don’t believe me, do a little research! Yes, disgusting.
If you don’t have the patience to wait 3-6 months to start enjoying your truly pure organic vanilla, make sure to check the ingredient list on store-bought vanilla to ensure the ONLY 2 items are alcohol and vanilla beans.
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