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The make-your-own vanilla extract experiment


Fat Guy
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I've been following this thread and now Im wondering if a similar process would work with cocoa nibs -

if not at the extract level of intensity, perhaps to make cocoa flavored booze.

Anyone have any opinions or experience re this?

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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The other day I was starting to question my decision to rely on Tahitian vanilla for my own in-home experiment. I bought them without a lot of consideration, and now I wish I'd purchased half Tahitian and half Madagascar.

I'll be curious to hear about the differences. I remember you talking about industrial odors coming from the tahitian extract in the early days. I've smelled nothing but vanilla deliciousness coming from the all-madagascar brew.

Curious, because everyone talks about Tahitian beans as being the aroma champions ...

At least in theory, a mix of the two seems like a great idea.

Notes from the underbelly

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Hi!

A lot of people make their own vanilla extract. However, they do not know the right proportions of beans to alcohol.

The type of alcohol used does not matter as it is used to extract the flavor compounds from the beans. Even if you used "el chepo" vodka, you will have a good extract with the right amount of beans. For extract purposes, you can buy grade B or extraction grade beans.

According to the FDA regulations, a 1-fold extract should have 13.2 oz of vanilla beans to 1 gallon of alcohol.

Chop the beans in about 1" and put them in a glass, air-tight container for about 4-5 weeks. Shake them every day (if possible). This process is called "cold masseration." It is my experience that this is the best process to make extract because it does not has a bitter aftertaste like the warm percolation process does.

For more information, please be welcome to visit my website www.arizonavanilla.com. We also have a recipe section to use vanilla in savory dishes as well as in desserts.

You're also welcome to check out my cookbook, "Simply Vanilla...Recipes for Every Day Use"

Please let me know if I can be of help if you have any questions.

Have a great day! :biggrin:

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I cannot thank you enough. This is awesome. I've always wanted to make vanilla but I've never known the proper quantities and what strength I would have at the end. Cool Cool Cool Cool Cool.

Love your site! Can't wait to get enough time to peruse it completely. All that vanilla spread out in the little boxes looks intoxicatingly wonderful.

A dollar a piece for vanilla???!!! Get out of here!!! I'm fainting.

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According to the FDA regulations, a 1-fold extract should have 13.2 oz of vanilla beans to 1 gallon of alcohol.

I've seen these proportions before (for 1-fold, 2-fold, etc..). Seems like most of the people doing their own extracts here are using a lower concentration of beans, but much more time (3, 4 or more months).

Thoughts on the difference betwence between fewer beans/more time and more beans/less time?

Notes from the underbelly

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The FDA is close enough - the ratio should be 100g vanilla per liter. Different beans have significantly different weights, planifolia vs tahitian, moisture content, bean size, etc. Figure between 150 and 350 beans per kilo, you need a scale.

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The FDA is close enough - the ratio should be 100g vanilla per liter.  Different beans have significantly different weights, planifolia vs tahitian, moisture content, bean size, etc.  Figure between 150 and 350 beans per kilo, you need a scale.

Thanks! I have a scale, but I didn't even think of weighing my beans out when I made my extract (about 2 months ago). If I use an average of 225 beans per kilo, 50 grams would be just over 10 beans--so it seems I've used almost the perfect amount for 1-fold vanilla, and my vanilla should be ready by now (perfect timing, since i only have a wee bit of Penzey's vanilla left).

When I'm back in Canada this summer, I'm going to order some beans so I can play around more. And next time, I'm going to use my scale!

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"Thoughts on the difference betwence between fewer beans/more time and more beans/less time?"

Soaking the beans longer will not make a better extract. There is only so much of the flavor compounds in a vanilla beans and once it has been extracted, keeping the been in the alcohol longer won't make any difference, except maybe making the beans smile a whole lot more :blink:

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For most vanilla bean species there are about 100 beans in one pound. Vanilla beans from Tahiti are fatter and therefore there are only about 75-80 per pound of Tahiti tahitensis vanilla beans. Tahitensis beans from Papa New Guinea contain about 100 per pound.

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The other day I was starting to question my decision to rely on Tahitian vanilla for my own in-home experiment. I bought them without a lot of consideration, and now I wish I'd purchased half Tahitian and half Madagascar.

I'll be curious to hear about the differences. I remember you talking about industrial odors coming from the tahitian extract in the early days. I've smelled nothing but vanilla deliciousness coming from the all-madagascar brew.

Curious, because everyone talks about Tahitian beans as being the aroma champions ...

At least in theory, a mix of the two seems like a great idea.

Tahitian beans have less vanillin (the vanilla smelling compound) than Madagascar. They also have a very heady floral, fruity aroma and flavor. You will not get that buttery creamy texture and taste from Tahitian beans or extracts.

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I cannot thank you enough. This is awesome. I've always wanted to make vanilla but I've never known the proper quantities and what strength I would have at the end. Cool Cool Cool Cool Cool.

Love your site! Can't wait to get enough time to peruse it completely. All that vanilla spread out in the little boxes looks intoxicatingly wonderful.

A dollar a piece for vanilla???!!! Get out of here!!! I'm fainting.

Vanilla takes a long time to grow and cure. The entire process from flowering to completely cured vanilla bean takes about 1 year. This process is done completely by hand, therefore, the cost is reflective of the process.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been away from home for a couple of months: miss my Peeps, my cats, my rose garden, my gas stove -- but I'm thinking now about my three jars of macerating vanilla beans and vodka I started when this topic was young.

So, for you folks who put up some beans in booze a few months ago: how's it going? Will it be ready to roll in a month or so when I'm back in Sweet Home Chicago?

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I've been away from home for a couple of months: miss my Peeps, my cats, my rose garden, my gas stove -- but I'm thinking now about my three jars of macerating vanilla beans and vodka I started when this topic was young.

So, for you folks who put up some beans in booze a few months ago: how's it going?  Will it be ready to roll in a month or so when I'm back in Sweet Home Chicago?

I started mine in mid-March. The color is better on the vodka mix than it is on the rum. The alcohol smell is almost gone from both kinds and the vanilla smell is strong. I plan on giving mine a full six months before I use them, though I could probably do so now.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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I cannot thank you enough. This is awesome. I've always wanted to make vanilla but I've never known the proper quantities and what strength I would have at the end. Cool Cool Cool Cool Cool.

Love your site! Can't wait to get enough time to peruse it completely. All that vanilla spread out in the little boxes looks intoxicatingly wonderful.

A dollar a piece for vanilla???!!! Get out of here!!! I'm fainting.

Vanilla takes a long time to grow and cure. The entire process from flowering to completely cured vanilla bean takes about 1 year. This process is done completely by hand, therefore, the cost is reflective of the process.

At the moment, a buck a bean is a horrible price. A few years ago when vanilla was at record prices, a dollar a bean was a good deal.

The people at saffron.com in San Francisco are charging $20-$29/lb (90-130 beans) depending on grade and origin.

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It's been three months and I'm thinking about a taste test. But as Fat Guy pointed out, it's not exactly helpful to take a swig of vanilla extract.

Any suggestions for something easy to mix, that really showcases the extract? I'd like to do a side-by-side with some nielsen massey extract that I have.

Notes from the underbelly

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I put plenty of beans into Bourbon and mine is still smelling fairly booze-y. I must say, though, I've never had a jar this big of vanilla extract before. Is it possible those little bottles would smell booze-y too???

Should I just try the stuff in something and see what happens? Fat Guy - you started this. What should we do?????

-Mark-

---------------------------------------------------------

"If you don't want to use butter, add cream."

Julia Child

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We've created a monster!

I think we need to learn more about how vanilla is produced commercially. It seems to me it can't possibly be as alcoholic, in its retail form, as what I've got going in my cabinet. And there's a sweet smell that I suspect may not really come from the vanilla itself.

Still, I do think the only way to test our creations is to use them in cooking. Presumably, that alcohol will dissipate or at least dilute pretty quickly. I was actually thinking it's time to make some cookies or something, though I think I'm going to wait maybe a full four months (until early July).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Vanilla is rarely cold-extracted commercially and you're right, commercial extracts frequently include other junk (black food coloring, sweeteners, etc) - I prefer cold extraction, but it takes about six months for the alcoholic smell to dissipate. Comparing vanilla extracts is easiest if you use an ounce of milk and a couple of drops of vanilla for each sample.

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We've created a monster!

You have. I just ordered a pound of Madagascar, and bought a bottle of bourbon pending arrival of the beans. Between this thread and the recipe for Bourbon Vanilla in Fowler's New Southern Kitchen, I figured the Cooking Gods were telling me that I needed to make my own vanilla.

Edited by viva (log)

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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I've joined in the experiment!! Bought some madagascar beans, put in jars at a ratio as mentioned above (50g beans to 500ml vodka) ... it has only been a couple of days and the vodka is going a lovely colour. Now I'm searching for small essence jars so that when it is ready (hopefully around Christmas) I can give it away as gifts!!

Thanks so much for the inspiration!!

I think we need to learn more about how vanilla is produced commercially. It seems to me it can't possibly be as alcoholic, in its retail form, as what I've got going in my cabinet.

Here in Australia there has been media attention paid to young people buying up vanilla essence and drinking it as alcohol, as it is not restricted for their purchase (have to be 18 to buy regular alcohol here). So at least in Australia it seems to be about as alcoholic!

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Still, I do think the only way to test our creations is to use them in cooking. Presumably, that alcohol will dissipate or at least dilute pretty quickly. I was actually thinking it's time to make some cookies or something, though I think I'm going to wait maybe a full four months (until early July).

Heh. You have four quarts of vanilla extract. The typical recipe calls for a teaspoon. What do you have to lose by trying it now?

Heck, if you bake a gazillion cookies, you can always buy a mini bottle, replenish, and a month later no harm done.

Try the extract in a real world application, and the monster will not eat you, I promise.

:biggrin:

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I went with the beans in Bourbon. Mine still smells rather alcohol-y. Anybody else with Bourbon have something to report? Does it sound to everyone like the people who went the Vodka route are having a better go of it?

I think Fat Guy's idea to bake something with the stuff is a good one.

-Mark-

---------------------------------------------------------

"If you don't want to use butter, add cream."

Julia Child

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Using Bourbon to make vanilla extract almost certainly comes from people being unaware that Madagascar/Reunion/Mayotte/Comoros/etc were called the Bourbon islands. I'm gunna make me sum bur-bun vanillie, where'd I put that dang fifth of jack?

Neutral spirits are the way to go...

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