Substantive Education

January 17, 2010

Making your own vanilla

I make my own vanilla.  It’s very simple and much tastier, and cheaper than store bought.  All you need are 3 or 4 vanilla beans and some alcohol.  I found that the cheapest place around me to get good beans is World Market…generally about $3 for 2 beans, and they are always nice and fresh.  I stock up when I have a coupon for World market because I like to have the beans for homemade ice cream as well.

Next you need some alcohol.  At this point, your choice can flavor your vanilla in a variety of ways.  I didn’t want any other flavor or scent, so I went with Vodka…besides, it’s a good Russian choice.  I decided not to get the cheapest or the most expensive and settled for a middle of the road choice.  The last time I made vanilla I found this vanilla flavored vodka.  The ingredients list on the bottle said that all that was in it was Vodka and vanilla beans, so I thought it was worth a try.

After that it’s just a matter of cutting the vanilla pod down the center and scraping out the beans.  Once the beans are out I put both the beans and the pods in a glass jar with about a cup of vodka.  The first picture is just after I put the beans in, the second picture is after one day.  I generally wait 2-3 weeks before straining mixture.  After you’ve strained it, it’s ready to use.  Use just as you would store bought vanilla.

I generally save one of the pods…after I’ve scraped the beans out for the vanilla…and put the pod into a container of sugar.  This quickly flavors the sugar giving it a lovely vanilla flavor.  It’s great stirred into tea or coffee or used in baking.  I’ve been told that in France people often use vanilla sugar and don’t add vanilla extract to their recipes.  It’s fun to play with anyway.  You can also cut little pieces of pod and place it in your coffee, then when you brew your coffee it has a hint of vanilla in the background.  Personally, I love vanilla, so I use it in many things.  Hope this was helpful.

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