Sep 9, 2016

Friday Feasting: Vanilla

Cam with coffee and vanilla

I can't buy vanilla extract without it having bad ingredients in it. Since my boys are gluten free, I bake all our breads, cakes, etc. from scratch, and we go through a ton of vanilla. Consequently, I decided to make my own vanilla.

The main ingredients in vanilla extract are vanilla beans and alcohol.  I didn't know much and what kind of hard liquor to use, so I asked my cousin (who is a bartender) what he recommended.  He cited that bourbon would be good since it "inherently has vanilla notes."  He also said that brandy might be heavy, but might work as would light rum.  He pointed out that vodka is tasteless, so it would remain neutral.
vanilla beans

I ended up purchasing vodka and bourbon. I cut up the equivalent of 3 beans in inch sections per 1 cup of alcohol. Then I sealed bottles, shook them, and placed them in a dark closet.  I shook them every week, and kept them away from the sun.  Within four months, I had some savory vanilla of my own.

vanilla beans at bottom of bottle

 The waiting… some say 2 months, others say 6 months to get the optimal flavor.  As the months go by, the liquid should get darker.  At four months I had a dark bottle, so we tried it.  Perfect.

three bottles of varying concentration: left bottle at one day; middle bottle at a week; right bottle at a month.

We preferred the vodka bottle to the bourbon bottle.  The bourbon has a strong flavor, which actually overpowered the vanilla.

As we use the vanilla from the bottle, we top it off with new vodka.  After three years, we did purchase new vanilla beans to reinvigorate the vanilla flavor.  Works like a charm.

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