Back to reality...
The past week in Door County was exactly what I have been needing. A little time to relax and recuperate body and mind - I couldn't have asked for anything more. On the drive back home my mother was paging through a new cookbook that she purchased, Fresh Farm Recipes from the Missing Goat Farm.
She stumbled upon a page that talked about making your own vanilla extract. The strange thing? It called for two ingredients - vanilla beans and vodka. Shut the front door - vanilla extract is alcohol? Does this mean that I can pour some vanilla extract on the rocks and enjoy it after a long day at work? No, not quite. If you've ever tasted vanilla extract, you'll know that it tastes anything but delicious. The dilemma? The liquid will smell absolutely delicious and all you will want to do is taste it - resist. You might as well keep it exclusively for baking.
The process is extremely simple. Two ingredients and a little bit of time. The more research you do, the more you will read about allowing the vanilla beans to marry with the vodka over a longer period of time. You can let the mixture sit for about six weeks, but the longer you wait, the more depth you will get in flavor.
I've decided to try a little experiment. Yesterday, July 20, 2014, I put the vanilla beans in a mason jar with vodka. The entire process will last six months. Every two months I will use some of the vanilla extract in a recipe and will compare any changes in flavor. At the end of the six months, we will decide, does age really make it better?
Many chefs will use masking tape to date or label their foods. This is an important tool to have in your kitchen. As I have already said, this is an experiment for myself. Every two months I will give you an update with tips or advice.
In the meantime, go out and buy some vanilla beans and vodka and start making your own vanilla extract.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Ingredients: 3 Madagascar vanilla beans 16 ounces vodka
- Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and place in a 16-oz mason jar.
- Fill jar with vodka and seal shut.
- Every few days swirl the contents of the jar. This step is important for the first few weeks. After that, the frequency will most likely decrease.