Now I’m a vanilla snob… like a HUGE vanilla snob. I will never ever EVER use that imitation stuff and honestly, though I will do my best to hide it, will make the-face if I’m in your kitchen and see it. And most likely I’ll throw it out and get you real vanilla 🙂 With that being said, I have been wanting to share this with you all for the longest time. However time just got away from me and I had 9,000 other things I wanted to share with you. Well today was the day that I at least wanted to put this all down for you.
Today I made my own vanilla bean extract (and even a raspberry bean extract – yeah I know, what?! Can you imagine just how amazing it’s going to taste when it’s ready???). Go out this week and make this with me. By the time Christmas comes around you’ll have enough to give out as gifts or hoard for yourself 🙂 Plus you’ll save SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much money by making it yourself. Not only will it taste better BUT it’s soooooooooooo much cheaper!
Did I mention just how cheap it is? 🙂
But then again if you want to spend $10 on a one ounce bottle… more power to you but then we need to talk about you investing in a bistro for me 🙂
So I need to give you some nerd knowledge about vanilla beans.
Choosing Vanilla Beans
Vocabulary for describing bean quality seems to vary a bit between vendors, which can make it more difficult to know exactly what you’re getting. Vanilla beans are graded A and B.
- Grade ‘A’ beans (also called gourmet or prime). These beans are oily and moist. Really excellent beans may have vanillin crystals on the outside, these will melt back into the bean if heated. There are about 100 to 120 grade ‘A’ beans (6-7 inch) per pound (7.5 per oz). The beans are visually attractive so that they can be a feature ingredient in gourmet cuisine. 30% – 35% moisture content.
- Grade ‘B’ beans (also called extract beans). These beans are less moist and also less attractive. But don’t worry, because the flavor isn’t in the water. There are about 140 to 160 grade ‘B’ beans (6-7 inch) per pound (10 per oz). 15% – 25% moisture content.
For the purposes of making vanilla extract, we want to use Grade B beans whenever possible. “Why?”, you may ask. “Isn’t gourmet always better?” NO.
- Grade B beans have less water weight. You get more bean for the buck because you’re not paying for water. This also means that less water ends up in your extract.
- With Grade A you pay for appearance, which doesn’t matter to us.
- We get the same beans as Grade A, but at a fraction of the cost.
It’s pretty simple…
Get some dark glass bottles with a solid air tight lid. I got these bottles here: Cobalt Blue 16 oz. EZ Cap Beer Bottles, CASE OF 12
Cover with vodka and close the lid…
Give it a shake every few days. About 6-8 weeks later you can use it BUT if you let it go longer, the flavor will become so much more intense and ‘full’. I like letting it go a good 4-6 months personally. But if you start this week, it’ll be awesome by Christmas.
16 ounce bottles Cobalt Blue 16 oz. EZ Cap Beer Bottles, CASE OF 12
1 lb of Vanilla beans: Madagascar Bourbon Planifolia Extract Grade B Vanilla Beans 6~7″Print
- Madagascar Bourbon Planifolia Extract Grade B Vanilla Beans (10-12 beans per bottle)
- 2 cups of vodka less 1-2 tablespoon (80 proof) for each bottle
- Cobalt Blue 16 oz. EZ Cap Beer Bottles, CASE OF 12
- Patience … at least 6 weeks’ worth though 4-6 months is better
- Clean your bottle and dry it well.
- With a sharp tipped knife, split the bean length-ways and scrape out the pulp of the beans.
- Put the pulp AND the bean pods into the bottle. Scraping out the pulp first will help it flavor the alcohol quicker.
- Repeat for all of the beans.
- Add the vodka (or really any neutral flavored alcohol) ensuring that the vodka covers the entire beans. If it doesn’t, fish out the ones that aren’t covered and cut in half and put back in. I used a funnel for this to help prevent a ‘party foul’ with spilling the vodka.
- Close the stopper on the bottle and shake the vanilla and vodka to distribute the seeds.
- Store in a dark, dry area.
- Every few days give the bottle a good shake to help break up the pulp and get the seeds distributed.
- After a week or so the extract will start to get darker and develop some flavor.
- In about 2 weeks you can use the extract but honestly the flavor will be really subtle.
- In about 6-8 weeks you can use it as extract in your recipe. The longer you leave the beans in (covered in alcohol, the more intense the flavor!)
I used plain vodka in all the bottles but one. The other I used raspberry vodka to see what the outcome will be.
I leave the vanilla beans in the extract container as I use it (or when I give it as gifts). I print up pretty labels and advise the gift recipients to just top the container off with more vodka when they use the vanilla extract for baking. If they or you choose not to do that, then the beans must be removed as they will mold (not pretty). If you do top it off, after awhile the flavor will lessen, but you can always just drop in another vanilla bean or two and it will be back up to strength.
If you do decide to take the beans out of the extract mixture, do not discard them! Rough cut them and toss them in with a cup of sugar and after a few weeks… Vanilla Sugar!