Making vanilla extract
Poll Results: How many beans per liter?
27% (3)8 or fewer, I'm miserly with my beans
27% (3)16 and up! Sky's the limit!
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I am definitely going to do it, though. E-bay has got some kick butt prices for beans and the extract I'm finding is heinously priced and horribly weak. Trader Joes used to sell a half way decent reasonably priced extract, but those days are loooong gone. I had high hopes for Penzey's and it did pack a lot of flavor but at that price?!?! No way.
Bulk beans and grain alcohol... I'm doing it!!!!
Now then...anyone know where to get a good deal on vanilla beans? Madagascar preferable, please. :P
PS....I split and gently mash the pods first.
It seems like the extraction keeps going and going. I'm down to the last of the Cognac extract and the flavor is huge!
"perpetual" vanillaA few years ago I bought a bottle (maybe 10 oz.) that had three or four vanilla beans that had been steeping in rum. The herbalists I bought it from was marketing it as "perpetual" vanilla. They recommended that every time I used it, refill with rum (actually, I bought two, one that had been started with rum and one with vodka). I have been using this for a really long time. Occasionally, I will shove a few more beans. omi
Q: What is a fold of vanilla?
Regular standard vanilla is one fold:
If 1 US gallon= 3.79L
then 13.35 oz/3.79L or 3.52oz per liter
If 1 oz = 28.35g
then 100g vanilla beans per liter of Vodka.
according to here:
Amazon.com: Organic Vanilla Beans, 1/2 Lb. Madagascar average count 40 to 44 stems: Gourmet Food
1/2 lbs of vanilla beans equals 40 to 44 pods
so this averages to 40-44 pods for 227 g or 17.62 to 19.38 pods per 100g
average then is: 18 1/2 beans per 1L of vodka
Nicko, I like strong vanilla so I use 8 beans or so per cup of vodka (I like Tito's) and age for 6 months before using. Here's a link but it's very simple, split beans, scrape out seeds, add to vodka and give the bottle a shake once a day or so if you remember. Once you start making it you can tweak your vanilla to suit the flavors you love depending upon your bean variety.
We make vanilla extract using vodka, bourbon, rum or brandy; and usually have at least a couple of different kinds on hand.
We use 6 - 8 whole beans (depending on the size and strength of the bean) split, per pint of solvent. We do not find it necessary to scrape the vanilla seeds from the bean.
"Bourbon vanilla" refers to the type of bean and not the solvent.
Pure grain alcohol (i.e., "Everclear") does not make for particularly good extract. And, while I like gin a great deal I don't find the idea of vanilla extract using gin as the solvent at all attractive.
Home made extracts are NOT as strong as good commercial extract, not even "one fold;" at least ours aren't. And yes, we've made extracts using more vanilla beans and more aging than the amount and time suggested in this post, but still never get the same strength as the highly concentrated stuff ("two fold" and up). We do not find that a problem though, we simply use more homemade extract than we would commercial because we prefer the results.
We find that our extracts hit maximum strength after about four months of aging.
After the extract is fully aged, we re-use the same beans with the addition of 50% fresh beans.
The best source for vanilla beans for quality/price we've found is Saffron.com. We've been using them forever. I feel far more comfortable ordering from them than from an unknown e-bay merchant and have no hesitation recommending them. We like the regular, planfolia beans for making extracts. The Mexican beans are the best, but are too expensive for our purposes. Sometimes you have to know when to say "when."
Saffron.com is also a great source for prepared extract, and... wait for it... quite likely the best source for quality/value saffron in the U.S. Their saffron is of the type called Persian sargol" grown in Afghanistan. It is not only as good as you can get at any price, but priced extremely competitively.
How I make it & sold this for many years in my shop. Per gallon of vodka (or Everclear) use 100 vanilla beans; or per fold 100 beans. Slit each bean & cut in about 3" lengths. For the first few weeks shake daily then after that at least once a week for about 6 months. Best at 12 months or longer.
Store in a dark (or amber bottles) cool place. You can feed it as it's used by adding a few more beans & topping with more vodka.
Edited by nalather - 5/19/13 at 12:41pm