Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goin' to make vanilla!

In the leanest times our our marriage, I always bought el cheapo imitation vanilla.  Once in a while I'd get the better stuff, but there didn't seem to be too much difference between the two, other than the price.  Then one day I was given a bottle of Mexican Real Vanilla.  Wow!  This stuff was so good!  You could suddenly taste vanilla in food.  If I would have had an ice cream machine, I would have been cranking out vanilla ice cream by the gallons.

To make vanilla, obviously you need vanilla beans.  The search was on.  Locally I found a cute, but dinky bottle that had maybe three little 3" beans in it.  You had to add your own booze.  Price was $12.97.  The closest Wal-Mart had nothing.  The closest health food store had only ONE bean, priced at $7.00!!  They said that vanilla beans were really expensive...no, you are expensive.

So of course, the peeps at Sufficent Self Forum came to the rescue!  My mucho thanks to Rhettsgreygal for posting! I did the same as Rhettsgreygal, bought one pound and got a quarter pound free from these people:

http://www.vanillaproductsusa.com/servlet/StoreFront

The cost was around $29, including shipping, for approximately 200 vanilla beans.  That's $0.15 per bean.  And the beans are roughly 6" long.
And here's her recipe that I'm going to use:

Vanilla Extract

The recipe is simple:  Approximately 6 vanilla beans per one cup of vodka, brandy, tequila, or other choice of alcohol (should be at least 70 proof).  Approximately: 1.00 Liter = 33.8140565 oz
                         1.75 Liters = 59.1745989 oz


I split the beans in half and put them in the bottle of liquor (after removing about a cup or so of liquid).  After putting in all the beans, refill with as much remaining liquor.  I shake the bottle a few times a week.  It is suppose to be ready after 1 month, but it gets better the longer it sits.  You can remove the beans by pouring through a coffee filter if you prefer.  I plan on keeping the beans in the bottle unless I give as a gift to someone who would be "wigged out" by having them float around in the bottle/jar. 

If you can smell the alcohol when you open the bottle, it is not ready.

I use the Grade B Extract Vanilla beans.  I purchased the 1 pound size and got the 1/4 pound of Grade A Beans.  In total there are approximately 200 beans in this size order.  I use mostly the Grade B beans with some of the Grade A beans.  I haven't tried the first batch yet.  I am holding out for 3 months (which will be June 3rd).
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If you want to read what other people have said about REAL homemade vanilla, you can read the entire thread here: http://www.sufficientself.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=9155

I might end up buying an ice cream maker yet.  Ummm, real vanilla bean homemade ice cream.  Doesn't that sound good?


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