Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vanilla, or why the neighbors think we drink

5 beans for every 8 ounces of alcohol. That's what the guy who answered the phone (!! they have a phone! they answer!!) at Beanilla recommended. 

I ordered organic Mexican, Madagascar and Tonga beans. He said the Tonga beans are very rare and smell of figs and raisins. I told him I don't like dried figs and I hate raisins. But he had me at rare. 

When I opened the plastic envelope I smelled dried figs. And raisins.

He also said don't use good vodka, it imparts its own flavor. Smirnoff, he said. 
So I have three big jars of vanilla extract macerating. Different kinds of beans. And neighbors who think not only are we lushes, but we're cheap.

Ah, the joys of the suburbs. Bet they'll be happy when holiday time rolls around and home-made vanilla shows up in their stockings.

Home made Vanilla Extract
For every cup of extract you will need:

5 vanilla beans 
1 cup (8 ounces) vodka - Smirnoff works fine, Ketel One is the gold standard. Whatever.

I make it at least a quart at a time. Makes great gifts, and you'll be surprised how fast it goes. More is better than "oh rats I'm out!"

In a clean glass jar with a sealable non-reactive lid (not aluminum, silver etc) place whole vanilla beans.  Pour vodka over, seal jar. In smaller jars you may need to fold the beans - no biggie. If you want grainy vanilla you can slit the pods; I love it but it some people think it looks dirty.

Shake well and place in a cool dark spot. The bottom of the pantry, behind your shoes in your closet, or you can try to sneak them into the wine cellar. That's what I did and I am listening for the howls of outrage.

A couple of times a week give the jars a shake. Leave for at least three months (October, November, December...see why I'm blogging about this now?) The longer it steeps the more delicious. 

After three months you can:

 - pour into pretty jars and give as gifts
 - put a quart in your cupboard and go baking crazy
 - leave it in the pantry until you're ready to part with it. This may take some time.
 - make warm vanilla apple cider. Or vanilla bean cream soda. Or vanilla pear sorbet. Check out the Beanilla web site for these and more recipes. 

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