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Vanilla Heaven — The Grow Network Community
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Vanilla Heaven

MaryRoweMaryRowe Posts: 513 ✭✭✭✭

I put up my first batch of home-made vanilla extract on Oct.2--just now got around to trying it. Pure Heaven! If there are any bakers here who are not yet making your own, you have to try this! There's no comparison with the commercial product.

It couldn't be simpler: you put your vanilla beans in a bottle or jar with vodka or something else to draw out the goodness, cap it tightly, remember to give it a shake once day or so, and wait for a month or two. I put two good beans in 8oz. of vodka, and another two in 8oz. of brandy to see which I would like better. The vodka will work better for general baking-- a cleaner vanilla flavor. But in anything where a shot of brandy might be nice, say a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly evening, the vanilla brandy is the winner.

Another wonderful discovery thanks to TGN!


  • monica197monica197 Posts: 874 ✭✭✭✭

    Next time, try using vegetable glycerine🤗

  • MaryRoweMaryRowe Posts: 513 ✭✭✭✭

    Hmmm, well I might....dunno....only vaguely aware of vegetable glycerin, not sure where to find it, not likely not around here.

    Is it as shelf-stable as alcohol? Does it have a taste that might affect the vanilla flavor as the brandy does?

  • kbmbillups1kbmbillups1 Posts: 573 ✭✭✭✭

    I made some 2 years ago and I'm still using it. It's soooo good! I put several vanilla beans that I split open into an entire bottle of vodka and shook it every once in a while. I have about 1/4th of it left. You're right about it being so easy!

    I've been thinking about starting another bottle of vanilla soon.

  • MaryRoweMaryRowe Posts: 513 ✭✭✭✭

    Right, I forgot to mention that part: you want to split the beans open, exposing more surface area to get more out of them. Wow--a whole bottle! Yes, I could see myself doing that now.

    I am wondering how much more I can get out of these beans that I used for the small 8 oz. batches too--maybe chopping them up a bit more and soaking them in a smaller amount of alcohol might coax a bit more flavoring out? Or is there a better use for beans that have already had one good soaking to get the most out of them?

  • SlippySlippy Posts: 117 ✭✭✭

    A great summer adult beverage is what I call a "John Daly" (after the crazy drunkard pro golfer John Daly and a play on words for an "Arnold Palmer" which is Sweet Tea and Lemonade drink)

    Take the rind from a few lemons and boil in sugar water until rinds are soft. Submerge in a bottle of Vodka and let sit for a few days or so.

    On a hot and humid Saturday morning, finish your chores early before the sun gets too high in the sky, then take a tall glass of ice, pour in about 3 fingers of your Vodka Lemon mixture, Add Iced Tea and stir. Crank up some beach tunes, lay down in a hammock under a shade tree and enjoy!

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin
    edited November 2020

    I've been making vanilla extract (and others) for many years. It is not necessary to split the beans, but you can. You also need 6 beans:1 c. of vodka for a true extract. Double extract means double the beans.

    We use the spent seeds & pods to make vanilla sugar. You could also put the seeds in a fruit salad (high fat yogurt, honey, poppy seeds, vanilla seeds). We have done this with already ground pure vanilla beans (no sugars or anything added).

    I have tried reusing beans for more extract, but there is not much left in them for that purpose. You could potentially grind them up after drying as well, but I have not found a way to do a great job of grinding them.

    I have been using my extract very sparingly since the price of beans skyrocketed. It is still extremely high and it is said that it will remain high for many years to come.

    We just recently bought some non extract beans because the company that I usually buy them from (vanillafoodcompany.ca) had a huge discount due to their anniversary. I am not fully sure how I want to deal with the grade A plump ones as extract grade is still better for making extract, but this is what they could source for their sale, and it was madagascar (so top quality) beans. I am now waiting on my beautiful order.

    I will still treat my extract as gold, but will finally be able to use a bit more of it finally once it is made.

  • MaryRoweMaryRowe Posts: 513 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow...if 2 beans in 8 oz. makes such a flavorful almost-extract, six beans must be dynamite! I will have to try that for sure now.

    This has me curious about lots of things now:

    --Surely there must be some kind of industry standards (maybe?), so I wonder why commercial vanilla extract is so disappointing compared to my 2-bean almost-extract.

    --When I was buying beans I passed up the Grade A in favor of Grade B too because I had read that B was better for extract...but what do people normally do with Grade A then?

    --And what about that vegetable glycerin mentioned above--any advantages to using that other than just avoiding the alcohol if you need or want to? Is it as shelf stable and flavor neutral as vodka?

    --And of course, while vanilla sugar is always a good thing, still seems like there ought to be more you can do with the spent beans...will have to think and experiment on that one.

    Remarkable how such a simple process can turn out to be so very interesting!

  • annbeck62annbeck62 Posts: 459 ✭✭✭

    I make my own using vodka. I've worked with food grade vegetable glycerin but never used it to extract things into. I think the big advantage is some people want to avoid alcohol. It is mildly sweet but neutral taste. I don't think it would affect the flavor.

  • DesireeDesiree Posts: 226 ✭✭✭

    You're making me want to try this now. I have flirted with the idea, but the cost of the beans has been a deterrent. When I watch a show where the chef/baker just whips out a bean to use like I would flour it, blows my mind! What sources are recommended to ensure good quality?

  • MaryRoweMaryRowe Posts: 513 ✭✭✭✭

    @Desiree Probably against the odds, but with some very careful shopping, I had good luck on Amazon. Might have been beginners luck, but the beans I ended up with were fresh and flavorful, and a good bit cheaper than the beans at the companies I've seen listed elsewhere. I know you have to be very careful trying to go with cheaper options like that though.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin
    edited December 2020

    In Canada,

    is the one that I use. They used to have a recipe from Neilson Massey for their extract recpie, which is the 6 beans/cup.

    I used to know the highest rated sources in the US. I will see if I can find any familiar ones.

    I found my answer to drying the beans. Of course, a dehydrator would work. Most likely moonshine would offset the higher moisture grade A vanilla beans. But it can be dried over a fire as well somehow:

    "While the three regions above are considered the main sources of highest-quality vanilla, Indonesia and other tropical vanilla-farming regions also produce vanilla in relatively large quantities. Where these vanillas differ is in their drying process. Vanilla is traditionally dried in the sun, taking a month or more to cure. In Indonesia, vanilla beans are typically dried over fire, expediting the drying and curing process, and adding a smoky flavor to some of the vanilla crops." - Exerpt taken from link below:

    Some questions that have been asked already in this thread are answered in their long article.

    I remember that the Vanilla Queen was highly recommended in the US when I researched & asked questions.

    There is also Vanilla Bean Kings. They claim top quality and ship all sorts of places, but I saw no claims about no GMO, etc. as the V.Q. above claims. I don't know much about them.

    If you want to do a search, try extract grade (either that or grade B) vanilla beans, US (or whatever country you live in).

    Be wary. I am sure that somehow there are schisters out there, given its unusually high price right now.

    Both Vanilla Food Company & Vanilla Queen should have tips on finding the best quality beans.

  • SilkiemamuskaSilkiemamuska Posts: 99 ✭✭✭

    I too have thought about making vanilla extract, for years! Yes, the crazy price of the bean keeps me in "thinking about it" mode. I can still remember when a large bottle at Costco was under $7, those were the days.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    My beans.

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