January 7, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

A couple of years ago I gave a bunch of folks homemade vanilla extract for Christmas, which was well received.  I've been asked to provide the recipe, which like many other cooking projects is a bit of a work in process.

I'm not one for leaving well-enough alone.  There are a decent amount of recipes online and I've noticed that my stuff is different from those that I've found online.  Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

Almost all recipes I've seen leave the bean whole and quite often leave the bean in the finished product for presentation and even a bit of a stronger effect.  I found one recipe online and quickly started tinkering with it.

My vanilla recipe:
3 Cups Vodka
2 Vanilla Beans

Chop up the vanilla beans and set into a quart canning jar filled with the vodka.  Cap tight and leave in the window sill for a month, shaking well at least once a day.  Early on I generally take the jar and place a blender bottom on it an give it a good blend.  After a month or so....I've kept it for a year before strain the infused vodka as fine as you want.  There will be a lot of little black specks from the vanilla beans.  If you use some cheesecloth you can capture all of the vanilla bean particles.  I prefer a strainer that captures all of the big pieces and lets the little specks through.

1 Cup water
2 Cups sugar

Heat the water and sugar into a simple syrup.  I prefer to use cane juice which is somewhere between white sugar and brown sugar.  After the syrup cools, add it to the vodka and bottle for another month before use.

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