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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Three different methods for making your vanilla extract

1. Place one vanilla bean into a pint of vodka. Shake daily for two weeks.
2. Scrape the seeds from three vanilla beans and place them into a bottle of dark rum. Place the pods in the rum as well. Let sit for three weeks, shaking occasionally.
3. Place 1/2 cup vodka or white tequila into small saucepan, and heat until it smokes but isn't boiling. Break 2 vanilla beans into pieces and place into bottle or jar. Pour the alcohol into the bottle and cover tightly. Let sit for a week, shaking frequently.
To strain and bottle for storage: Use a very fine strainer, coffee filter, or paper towel to strain.

Another method:

Split 7 vanilla beans end-to-end with a sharp knife. Add these to a .750 liter (1/5) bottle of rum, vodka, everclear, scotch, brandy, or alcohol of your choice.
Let stand for three to four weeks before using.
When bottle is 1/4 full add three to four more beans and more alcohol.
Let stand for another week before using.
Seeds may float in the syrupy liquid but unless yoou are giving the finished product as a gift, don¢t remove them-they only add to the flavor.
Use one-forth to one-third the amount called for in most recipes as this has a very strong vanilla flavor.
The vanilla beans are good as long as they have a vanilla scent.
When they have lost their scent, discard and replace with fresh beans.
You may remove the beans from the alcohol base and either scrape or chop and use them in recipes in place of the extract if you want a strong vanilla flavor.
If you choose to remove the vanilla beans from the alcohol, dry them thoroughly and place them in a canister of sugar to make vanilla sugar.

Traditional Vanilla Recipe
(Makes 8-ounces)
1/2-pint Vodka
4 Vanilla beans
Seal tight bottle or container
Decorative bottle

1. Using a sharp kitchen knife, cut a lengthwise slit down the middle of each vanilla bean.
2. Cut vanilla beans into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces.
3. Pour vodka into your container.
4. Add vanilla beans to container and shake.
5. Wait and shake. It will take 30-days for the vanilla extract to mature. Once each day, vigorously shake the container for 30-seconds.
6. Once the 30-day cycle has finished, strain the liquid through a colander or coffee filter and place in decorative bottle.

Brandy Vanilla
(Makes 8-ounces)
1 cup Brandy
1 whole vanilla bean

1. Place Brandy into seal-tight container.
2. Add one vanilla bean.
3. Wait. It will take 3-weeks for vanilla to cure properly.
4. Pour into decorator bottle.
Another Recipe:

Start with 1 cup of vodka, brandy, or real vanilla extract.
Add 2-3 Tablespoons of corn syrup, stir or shake to dissolve.
Finely chop 3 or more (depending on strength of flavor desired) vanilla pods; add to bottle.
Store the bottle in a cool place; stir or shake occasionally to mix ingredients.
As the contents of the brew bottle are poured out, top it up occasionally with additional liquid (vodka, brandy, or extract) and a bit more corn syrup; about once a year add a couple more finely chopped vanilla pods.

Storing Vanilla
Keep vanilla extract in a cool, dark place, with the bottle tightly closed, to prevent evaporation and loss of flavor. Vanilla extract will stay fresh for two years unopened and for one year after being opened.
Vodka usually gives the highest alcohol content. Brandy adds additional flavor which some folks may or may not prefer.
Corn syrup or sugar helps extract and develop the flavor from the vanilla pods (corn syrup dissolves more easily).
Using a variety of vanilla pods (Madagascar, Indonesia, Tahitian, Mexican) will produce a vanilla extract with a much more complex flavor and aroma. Try using Madagascar pods as a base, adding Tahitian and Mexican pods for additional flavor/fragrance notes
Shake vanilla bottle before each use. Small flecks of the
vanilla pods will be in the vanilla extract - they provide additional flavor. They also appear as dark flecks in light-colored food, don¢t shake the bottle if you don¢t want the flecks to appear.
Occasionally spoon out some of the mass of vanilla pods that settle to the bottom of the jar for when you want a very intense vanilla flavor (such as homemade vanilla ice cream or butter/vanilla pretzel cookies).
Have a brew bottle always on the go and every summer make sure it¢s topped up so you'll have enough vanilla extract on hand for holiday baking.
Starter brew bottles make great gifts for friends who bake. Include the basic instructions and a few extra vanilla pods in case they want to make an even stronger extract or wish to make some vanilla sugar on the side.

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