Wednesday, November 3, 2010
1. (n) any tropical climbing orchid of the genus Vanilla, esp. V. planofolia, having spikes of large greenish-yellow flowers and long fleshy pods containing seeds (beans)
2. (n) the pod or bean of certain of these plants, used to flavour food , etc
3. (adj) slang ordinary, conventional, plain: That guy is so vanilla...
I am a little obsessed with vanilla beans. So I wonder: Why does vanilla get such a bad wrap sometimes? (see above def. 3) I personally adore the stuff. It's classic, and if you are a baker, you're lost without it.
And I lurve baking! That's why I was so intrigued when I found out how to make my own PURE vanilla extract and vanilla sugar...
WHAT??? That is the coolest thing ever! (Well, maybe not ever, but pretty cool all the same :)
All you need is:
1. An airtight container such as a Mason jar or bottles
2. Some strong (drinking) alcohol (80 proof or higher)
3. Vanilla beans (2-3 beans per 1 cup of alcohol)
Now, I found out how to do this a couple years ago, but I didn't do it.
*kicking self in pants*
It's so dang easy... I don't know what I was waiting for. So after some research, (I wanted to do this as cost effective and high quality as possible) I went to work.
I am making the vanilla mainly as Christmas gifts, so I need some nice bottles, which I bought here. The vanilla I got on eBay from this company here (cheapest vanilla I found). I bought 1 pound of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, which equals out to about 100-150 vanilla beans. And I purchased 80 proof vodka from Costco. I've been told that the Kirkland (Costco) brand vodka is comparable to Grey Goose, which is apparently a nice high quality vodka. I wouldn't know. I don't drink, and I felt a little strange walking through Costco with this GIANT bottle of vodka in my cart. ;) Anyway- Vodka isn't a strong tasting alcohol (so I'm told), so it's nice to use because it won't take over the taste of the vanilla. You can also use brandy or rum.
So here's how you do it:
1. Sterilize your bottles or jars in boiling water.
2. Cut your vanilla beans in half lengthwise with a sharp knife or sharp kitchen shears. If you are using small bottles or jars, you may have to cut them in half the other way first.
4. Place on airtight lid and and give it a good shake. Keep it in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks, and don't forget to give it a nice shake often. It takes 6-8 weeks for the alcohol to extract the vanilla to a usable quality.
Here is what it looks like right after you make it:
This is just 2 days later:
The longer you let the vanilla to extract, the deeper and darker and more vanilla-y the extract will become. After about 4 weeks open it up and smell it... heavenly...
Vanilla sugar is easy too! Find out how here.
I use Turbinado (raw) sugar. So, it's a little different. But, this is a great way to infuse vanilla with your baking or to sweeten up your oatmeal, cereal, coffee, and tea!
It was fun and very interesting learning about different types of vanilla and how to use it. Go try it for yourself and have fun!!!
Wishing you a fantastic day~
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