08 January 2013

Homespun Necessities: Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I use vanilla extract (or bean) excessively and I'm shamelessly snobbish about quality. My most suitable solution to the inverse relationship between my addiction and the sub-standard caliber of the supermarket extracts has been to buy Taylor and Colledge from the mostly British expat shop in town. While the quality is superb, the price includes importing and is blindfold-worthily steep. Especially for someone who goes through a bottle every two weeks. Solution o'clock needed to happen, like, six months ago.

So I clickety clack clacked around on the World Wide Web and soon was armed with a recipe, a tracking number for a half kilo of vanilla beans, and the giggles at the thought of popping in to the liquor store the next day for three bottles of vodka. Pregnant, and pushing a stroller.

Using Beanilla's recommendation of five beans per cup of alcohol, I calculated that at about 4.3 cups per liter, I'd need 21.5 pods per bottle of booze. I used 24 to be safe, making the total count for all three bottles 72. And that left me with about twenty-five beans, with which I'll scrape out and use as twenty-five excuses to make sweet things. If you've never gritted vanilla seeds between your teeth in a custard or a creme brûlée, give me a little notice and come over for dessert.

The minimum aging time for extract is eight weeks, which was New Year's Day. After reading that it only gets better over time, I decided to begin using the first bottle immediately (leaving the beans in the extract so it would continue to strengthen), crack open the second liter after six months, and the third after a year.

Tonight, I did my first taste test, splashing a bit into my hot chocolate. By George, success! At €2.30/100ml (vs. €6.50/ml store-bought) and with the majority of the effort done by pure chemistry and the cupboard, triple success. In retrospect, I should have planned a bit better, started earlier, and split a liter into tiny little bottles as Christmas gifts for my vanilla-lurving friends... but, come on, I'm too selfish for that. Go make your own damn vanilla.

Happy extracting!

Homemade Vanilla Extract
homemade vanilla extract
A. 24 premium extract-quality vanilla beans
B. 1 sharp paring knife
C. 1 liter of vodka
D. 1 dark cupboard
E. 8+ weeks 

Ok, this one's easy. Split each of item A with item B, lengthwise, then drop into item C (cap off, duh). Give item C a good shake, then place into locatie D for duration E. 
Homemade Vanilla Extract