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, 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:

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).

If you want to read what other people have said about REAL homemade vanilla, you can read the entire thread here:

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