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Vanilla Extract

 

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Vanilla Bean Pods

 

Vanilla Beans.  I don’t know a baker that hasn’t used it in one form or another.  You can find it in the original whole bean form or as an extract, paste or sugar. The rich scent and intense flavor are prized by bakers all over the world.  Me included that’s why I confess I’ve  had a bit of an obsession with vanilla for quite sometime now.  This lead me to search out different brand and eventually make my own.  I recommend you try it for yourself and then you taste the difference!
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I’ve been making my own vanilla for a long time it not only tastes great,  but when you bake as much as I do it will same you some money in the long run.  This doesn’t mean I’m opposed to buy different kinds just to try it I just feel you age a great taste you will love.  If I am running short and have been busy (oh I’m sure that never happens to you right) I buy Nielsen-Massey.  I also like Nielsen-Massey Vanilla beans. You can also fine vanilla beans in you grocer’s baking aisle that are different brands and will work just as good. These are the same great Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans they make theirs out of.  Now I don’t know any good baker that doesn’t love quality vanilla in their baked goods.  The intense smell and distinctive taste there’s no mistaking it.  You also get to choose whether you use bourbon or vodka.  When using vodka those of you whom are gluten-free be sure to check the label not all vodka is grain free. Some Vodkas are made out of wheat others corn or potato.  Wouldn’t want anyone getting sick.

 

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The other nice thing is you get pure vanilla not additives like sugar or water.  Since it make a one liter bottle you don’t have to buy vanilla for long periods of time and that’s great too! I like to use Kentucky Bourbon for darker vanilla and Vodka for clear vanilla.  Now with the holidays just around the corner said vanilla is great to give as gifts.  Now it needs to age for a few months so you’ll want to get started on it a few months before the holiday.  But what cook doesn’t like a wonderful gift for the kitchen and one you’ve made fresh for them makes it even better.  I buy flip top bottles in different sizes lots of places carry them like Micheal’s and Joanna fabric to name a few.  Now when the bottle runs low just add a few more beans and the liquor of your choice and let it age a few months in a dark spot and you’ll have more vanilla in no time.  If your recipes call for whole vanilla bean pods or the seeds.  Take one out of the bottle that has aged and you will have the best bean paste to use in all kinds of  recipes like custard or cakes and puddings.   Don’t forget to label your vanilla and put a recipe on the card so they can make their own next time.

 

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Method:

  • 1 liter Bourbon or Vodka
  • 4 Vanilla Bean Pods whole
  • Flip top bottle or just drop them in the bottle of liquor be sure there’s enough head space so not to over flow the bottle.

Dark bottles work best so that the light is kept out but if you are using the bottle it came in the Vodka will most likely be clean  and need to be kept out of the light.  Once you have add your vanilla beans use a marker to right the date on the label so you know the exact date you stored it.  Then wait at least 6 weeks before using I age mine for 10 to 12 to get an intense flavor.  As it age you will notice the intensity deepen and develop a great vanilla bean taste.

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