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The make-your-own vanilla extract experiment


Fat Guy
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My visitor, who now lives in Hawaii but was my neighbor here for many years, brought me, besides  the vanilla beans, some cocoa, chocolate, coffee, five pounds of macadamia nuts and two pounds of comb honey, all grown and produced in Hawaii. 

Any chance she needs a 46-year-old adopted, state-side daughter? :biggrin::laugh:

I have offered to be her adopted sister, since we are about the same age, I think. (That is, I don't mind admitting I am 68, however she, although admitting to similar memories as mine, about the 50s and 60s, is very cagey about her actual age.) :laugh:

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Ok, so I'm months and months late, but you all have inspired me and I have some extract grade madagascar burbon beans on the way and I picked up some Icelandic Vodka earlier in the week. It wasn't cheap (about the same as Grey Goose) but the liquor store employee recommended it as THE most neutral vodka on the market. It's funny because I just returned from an Icelandic backpacking trip a few weeks ago! Everything is so expensive in Iceland, I think the imported vodka is actually cheaper here. :hmmm:

It should be in jar by weeks end and maybe, just maybe ready for a little christmas baking in a few months. Am I setting my hopes too high on that one?

Thanks, everybody, for all of your excellent information in this thread. I've learned a lot.

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The following is from one of my great-grandmother's receipt journals. Some interpretation was required because the handwriting is very small, written with a very fine steel pen and faded in spots.

For "Flavouring of Vanilla recommended by Lady Bateman" grate about 2 dwt (pennyweight) of sugar into a stone mortar and work with a "broken" finger of vanilla until it appears oily.

Pull the cork on a crock of sweet Rhinewine and set into a pan of crack'd ice, well salted, for half an hour then decant the liquid into a jug and add half a gill to the mortar. Muddle the mixture until it is a slurry and pour into a jelly glass and cover with a square of moistened parchment and tie it on well. Set the glass in a warm, dark cupboard until nearly the color of black treacle. Draw off the liquid with a pipe and add more of the icewein (her spelling) to the slurry.

My great-grandmother wrote this in 1877 while she was staying at a hotel in Paris.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 1 month later...

I have followed this thread and made some very wonderful vanilla four differing kinds as a result ..thank you so much!!! ...I am ready to start using them and also they are ready to bottle for sharing...

only I am exhausted because work is picking up (season for wheezin .I am a nurse) and I just can not find a link to the small bottles that I once saw some place I thought in this thread

help?

I just need a source please for reasonable amber extract bottles and perhaps some labels as well?

I love to make things to consume ..but I am not at all creative in packaging ..I wish I was!

please pass me your tips for this vanilla to make it look as nice as it is!!

just not to spendy please!!

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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this helps very much thank you

I wonder if anyone has pictures of how they ended up bottling home made vanilla ..I would love to see if anyone wants to share???

this is beautiful stuff btw I am so happy with the end results!

I want to try somehow adding maple to one next time

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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My Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean-Svedka Vodka extract is approaching the 2-month mark this weekend. It smells less alcoholic and more vanilla-y than it did two months ago, but I'm going to hold off using it before March 4th. I only hope it survives the move next month.

I intend to take Arizona Vanilla Company's advice and add a simple syrup to the mixture before using it. The Nielsen Massey product even has sugar in it, so I figured mine should too. Has anyone had experience with this process? I'd hate to ruin six months of idle work.

In the meantime, I've had to purchase yet another 32-oz. bottle of NM extract to carry me through the next four months. You'd think I bathe in the stuff. :rolleyes:

Speaking of which, anyone ever try making their own vanilla oil/perfume? I'm tired of giving the Body Shop my money.

BTW, thanks for the bottle source! I'm definitely going with cobalt blue. :cool:

-- Lisa

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  • 3 weeks later...
...

Pull the cork on a crock of sweet Rhinewine and set into a pan of crack'd ice, well salted, for half an hour then decant the liquid into a jug and add half a gill to the mortar.  ...

My great-grandmother wrote this in 1877 while she was staying at a hotel in Paris.

That is pretty cool! It is actually a quick freeze distillation to get higher alcohol content for the extraction liquid. The salt is used to lower the temperature of the melting ice, like in old ice cream machines.

Edited by TheSwede (log)
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...

Pull the cork on a crock of sweet Rhinewine and set into a pan of crack'd ice, well salted, for half an hour then decant the liquid into a jug and add half a gill to the mortar.  ...

My great-grandmother wrote this in 1877 while she was staying at a hotel in Paris.

That is pretty cool! It is actually a quick freeze distillation to get higher alcohol content for the extraction liquid. The salt is used to lower the temperature of the melting ice, like in old ice cream machines.

I have never been able to figure out exactly what she meant by "sweet Rhinewine" because I always thought Rhine wines were fairly dry. She certainly knew a lot about wine as her husband had an extensive cellar and so did my grandfather (which he was able to maintain throughout prohibition, although I am not sure just how he pulled that off). One of my aunts suggested she might have meant icewein but I'm just not sure...

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I belive most German wine producing regions also produce sweet and semi sweet wines. In particular "Trockebärenauslese" (dry berry vintage would perhaps be a litteral translation) is a German version of the French Sauternes which are made on grapes infested with botrytis mould. You find those frome Rhine districts.

However since it is obvious that you want to up the alcohol content here for the extraction, a semi sweet wine might be the best since generally the higher the sugar content the lower the alcohol.

(Sorry for going OT here...)

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I've been using the vanilla extracts--Tahitian and Madagascar, in vodka--that I started in March for a few months now. I think the flavor has continued to evolve a bit. The Tahitian is distinctly more floral than the Madagascar, and I use the two extracts differently. For example, I would use the Madagascar with chocolate or cinnamon flavors; I think the Tahitian goes nicely with pears.

So far, I have left the beans in the vodka. Is there any reason for me to take them out? Will I start to get off flavors or spoilage or anything?

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I've been using the vanilla extracts--Tahitian and Madagascar, in vodka--that I started in March for a few months now. I think the flavor has continued to evolve a bit. The Tahitian is distinctly more floral than the Madagascar, and I use the two extracts differently. For example, I would use the Madagascar with chocolate or cinnamon flavors; I think the Tahitian goes nicely with pears.

So far, I have left the beans in the vodka. Is there any reason for me to take them out? Will I start to get off flavors or spoilage or anything?

The flavors won't go "off" or spoil, however the maximum extraction reaches a limit at about two years. The beans will still have some aroma and flavor, so if you have kept them in large enough pieces that won't get lost, remove them from the liquid, dry them completely and stash them in your sugar container. If they are in small bits, dry them (a mesh tea ball works nicely and you can hang it in a warm spot) then tie them into a piece of muslin (or something that works really good is nylon mesh that you can buy at the yardage store, the stuff that is made for curtain liners) then put that in your sugar canister.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Anyone have a few drops of thick brown oil floating on top of their extract when they pour it out?

Mine (madagascar with bourbon, by the way) has been sitting in the back of the cupboard for about 4-5 months now, and has a very vanilla-y scent and taste, the brown oil is only annoying in that it is visually unappealing.

Was awesome sauteed in with some apples, sugar, and butter the other day.

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

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  • 3 weeks later...
Anyone have a few drops of thick brown oil floating on top of their extract when they pour it out? 

Mine (madagascar with bourbon, by the way) has been sitting in the back of the cupboard for about 4-5 months now, and has a very vanilla-y scent and taste, the brown oil is only annoying in that it is visually unappealing. 

Was awesome sauteed in with some apples, sugar, and butter the other day.

Mine has that oil on top - I wasn't crazy about the looks of it either, but I agree - the extract itself is lovely! I used a blend of tahitian and madagascar beans, and the fragrance and flavor are really terrific.

Patty

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I had it too just took a cotton swab and wicked it off and cleaned the top of the bottle a bit ...it is just the seeds and oil residue...no biggie!

I filtered bottled and gave it away ..before I put one aside for myself ..bummer

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good - glad to know I'm not the only with oil. Great idea to wick it with a swab!

Next question: does your extract curdle milk or cream? Mine does. I suppose that's the alcohol. (I remember the cementmixer shots we used to do in college!)

If this is common, is there a solution? I really love the flavor of my extract but vanilla and milk go together a little too often for me to ignore the curdling.

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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  • 3 weeks later...

I've just discovered this thread, having been directed to it by a recently posted vanilla question & I've whiled away more time than I really had today reading all eight pages.

The result is that once again I find that I have been led astray by Egulleteers. Before I realized what I was doing, an order had been placed for a bunch of vanilla beans from The Organic Vanilla Bean Company, then apparently unable to contain myself, another button was pushed resulting in the purchase of the book, Simply Vanilla.

When my vanilla beans come, I shall immediately plunge them into some vodka & perhaps rum. Since I'm about nine months behind everyone else, I'm wondering if those of you with lovely jars of finished vanilla in the back of your cupboards have any advice to share with a latecomer.

pat w.

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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Good - glad to know I'm not the only with oil.  Great idea to wick it with a swab!

Next question:  does your extract curdle milk or cream?  Mine does.  I suppose that's the alcohol.  (I remember the cementmixer shots we used to do in college!)

If this is common, is there a solution?  I really love the flavor of my extract but vanilla and milk go together a little too often for me to ignore the curdling.

I found a couple of bottles of my extract! I thought I had given it all away. :wub: .it is fantastic btw.. ....I have to say ..no curdling yet but have not tried it with milk dishes like custard or anything .....since I just found the bottle.

..whipped cream did just fine ..I whipped the cream and added the extract towards the end of the whipping and it was perfect no curdling ..I will however try just putting a spoon of it in milk to see

I wonder why it is curdling? there are milk based drinks that have alcohol in them so that should not be it ..but now you have me curious and you are right you can not overlook that ..dairy and vanilla go so well together hopefully there is some resolve for this

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Next question:  does your extract curdle milk or cream?  Mine does.  I suppose that's the alcohol.  (I remember the cementmixer shots we used to do in college!)

If this is common, is there a solution?  I really love the flavor of my extract but vanilla and milk go together a little too often for me to ignore the curdling.

I often have my extract in milk - warm or cold ... it swirls around the top before I stir it but no curdling at all??!?!?! I love it and it is my bedtime treat when it is cold!

My base was vodka if that makes any difference? I add 1-2 tspns into a cup of milk (hot or cold) without any problems.

I've used mine extensively in cream and milk based custards and no curdling.

Pat W ... just make sure than you think you'll need :biggrin: I use so much more essence just becase I have it (and I love it) ... eg. my cup of milk with vanilla is happening a lot more often than when I used to purchase my vanilla extract!! I also double the vanilla in many recipes which makes it disappear faster. I had made up 750ml with the aim to give it away (as I could never imagine using that much in a lifetime!), but I'm keeping it all for myself!!

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To prevent curdling, mix the extract with a teaspoon or so of simple syrup (everyone should have some on hand anyway), then add it to the milk or cream.

When making eggy things with milk, note that in most recipes, one is instructed to add the vanilla or other flavorings to the Eggs or Egg yolks, mix well, then add the milk. There are strong proteins in the egg yolks that keeps the alcohol in the extracts from reacting with the milk.

Try putting a drop of any kind of liquor (easier to see with the dark-colored ones) and see what happens.

One of my ex-husbands often drank "Highalnd moose milk" and it always looked awful when the scotch was poured into the milk.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I'll ask again...has anyone else added a simple syrup to their extraction?  I'm still not touching it for another 2-1/2 months, but inquiring minds want to know.

Thanks,

Lisa

Funny that you mention that...I was in Cozumel over the holidays, and if you spent $20 at a certain store, you got free vanilla! Sure, it was a small bottle (and probably Mexican vanilla beans), but I was shocked to see that it also had corn syrup in it. I feel bad for the tourists that come home and try to bake with it.

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