Monday, April 25, 2011

Vanilla beans and homemade vanilla extract

I recently got some vanilla pods...they are available at Whole Foods, Costco (seasonally), local health food stores, online and other places.  They need to be stored in an air-tight container in a cool dark place.

Making your own Vanilla Extract seemed extremely easy, so I thought I would give it a shot.  I used
- 4 whole organic Vanilla Beans
- 1 cup vodka (although you can also use bourbon or brandy)  I just happened to have vodka at home.

Using a paring knife, cut the vanilla beans lengthwise, leaving the seeds inside intact.  Drop your vanilla beans in a jar, cover with vodka, and screw the cap tight.  Store the jar in an easily accessible location as every day for the next 4 to 6 weeks, you will need to shake the jar.  Not for a long time but the motion helps the flavor migrate from the beans to the vodka.  Depending on how strong a vanilla flavor you want, you can add new vanilla beans to make a stronger extract.  Once you've got the flavor of the at the desired strength, strain the Vanilla Beans out (using cheese cloth or a fine sieve) and bottle the extract. For added visual appeal, use a clear jar and put a Vanilla Bean in each bottle.
Vanilla extract lasts indefinitely, and becomes more aromatic and flavorful as it ages (just like a fine bottle of wine!).   You can use your homemade Vanilla Extract in exactly the same way you would use your store-bought extract.  

What else can you do with vanilla beans?

Vanilla Sugar: Place a vanilla bean in a jar filled with sugar, it tastes delicious in coffee or sprinked over sugar cookies.  My friend Andee made me a jar!

Vanilla Liquor: Add Vanilla Beans to liquors. They are especially wonderful in whiskey, bourbon, or vodka. This one's for Alton:-)

Vanilla Ice Cream: If you have an ice cream maker, you can add some of the vanilla seeds to your base.

Vanilla Honey: Gently heat honey with a Vanilla Bean in it to create Vanilla infused honey. Simple and delectable for dipping fresh fruit or drizzling over desserts.

Vanilla Lemonade: Drop a vanilla bean in a pitcher of lemonade.

Vanilla infused coconut oil: I put a pod in some virgin coconut oil and let it sit for a while.  Then I used it to make gluten free mochi cake...yum!

No comments:

Post a Comment