On My Mind…Vanilla!

Posting inspired from down–to–earth‘s On Your Mind Fridays.

On my mind today is Vanilla! I bought 1 pound of extract-grade beans online and I’ve started an experiment on making my own vanilla extract. I regularly pay $15 for 12oz or so of good quality extract, and I bake a lot so this may be a great savings. The initial investment was $30 for the beans including shipping. I’m using less than a quarter for this first batch, and as I understand the beans can be reused a few times.  I’ll estimate the actual cost of the extract once I’ve decided which alcohol is the best.

The first batch is an experiment. 3 separate jelly jars, 1 cup of alcohol in each and 6 split vanilla beans. I’m using three different alcohols:

  • Skyy Vodka – Vodka is the general choice for this, it’s flavor neutral.  I had a big bottle of Skyy, it’s not a bad vodka so it’ll do.
  • Bacardi Rum – The regular stuff, not 151.  Rum is another popular choice for making extract.  It has some flavor to it but it’s supposedly complimentary.
  • Black Maple Hill Kentucky Straight Bourbon – This is a small batch boutique distiller.  It was rated rather high with some nice notes on flavor that sounded complementary to making vanilla extract.  Bourbon whiskey is aged in fired oak barrels that impart a flavor to the liqour.  The flavor will definitely make a difference in any finished baked food.  Whether it’ll be a good thing is anyone’s guess but worth a shot!

It’ll be 3 months until I find out if this worked, with weekly shaking of the jars to get the flavor going.  I’ll post when the experiment is complete as to how it went and some more pictures.  The remainder of the beans I vacuum packed in a jar, they should last a long time.  The seller of the beans is Vanilla Products USA on eBay, their stuff is quite quality, their shipping was fantastically fast, and they sent 1/4lb of Tahitian grade A vanilla beans as well, which I’ll definitely include in a future experiment, perhaps vanilla bean ice cream this summer!

  3 comments for “On My Mind…Vanilla!

  1. February 4, 2011 at 4:12 am

    That looks like a great project. Good vanilla is so expensive! I’m growing it but I haven’t got it to flower yet. I hope it works out well.

  2. February 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    oooh, so jealous of your experiment. a friend just gifted me with some he made with a premium rum…I feel rich! hope yours is equally successful!

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