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Vanilla extract question

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hello I am new to this site and have a vanilla extract question. I recently purchased bulk organic vanilla beans to make homemade vanilla extract for Christmas presents. I was wondering-does anyone know if you remove the beans after they have sat for 2-3 months in the alcohol? Also, would it be better to make 1 or 2 giant batches and transfer them once they are done or would it be better to make each jar that I am going to give as a present be the "holding tank"? Thanks for any help with this. I really don't want to mess this up!
post #2 of 14

Keep the beans in

I would use a beautiful bottle with several beans in each.
I would also create the gift in each bottle and let steep until the time of gift giving has arrived!
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
post #3 of 14
I would also use the bottles you intended to give to steep the vanilla and would leave the bean in the bottle.

What a thoughtful gift for your cooking friends.:chef:
post #4 of 14
Can I become one of your cooking friends? J/king! Seriously, that is a great gift idea! I like the idea of putting it into pretty bottles, then they can not only use the gift in cooking but display it as decor in their kitchen.
post #5 of 14
Home made gifts, the best!!! Home Baking and Home Cooking because they all come from the heart!!!
I may do the same thing.
I don't think we have many of the same friends:lol:
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
post #6 of 14
One year I made vanilla using bourbon in small pint bottles, removed the label in water and added my own from
Homemade is great, especially for oor grad students like I was!
post #7 of 14
Slit the bean(s) before putting into the bottles so you get the full flavor form them. My friend used to make vanilla like this with brandy. Just make sure you diliver to them. My friend kept bugging me about how he'd made this vanilla and I should come by and get it some day, so I did. I had never been in the house before, and it was pitch black inside. He held the door for me and I walked in ahead of him. I took two steps forward, and as I walked off into space, I heard "Hey, watch out for the basement steps.". I have never let him forget it. The vanilla was actually worth it.
post #8 of 14
In order to get a good amount of vanilla flavor to your extract, you want to use a lot of beans. A pretty bottle with a few beans might work well as a gift for a non cook, but for the true cooking aficionado, forget aesthetics and go for potency. I, personally, woud love a potent extract over a pretty one anyday. But that's just me :)

In other words, if you're going for potency, make a few large batches (cramming as many beans as you can into each) and rebottle it.

Btw, if you can obtain it, grain alcohol (everclear) will give you the cleanest taste in the finished extract.
post #9 of 14


I don't think you can over extract the beans, which is to say just keep them in the solution. I would probably make a mother batch and put it up until you are happy with flavor, then transfer to the individual gift bottles adding a bean(or part of one) to each. I would leave the beans whole. With extended extraction time you will get all the flavor and the whole bean looks nicer.
The most important thing though is sourcing the freshest and most fragrant beans you can find. The vanilla growing areas have had a hard go of things in the last few years as a result of wheather and political problems. NOT ALL VANILLA IS CREATED EQUAL. Look for beans that are profoundly fragrant, moist and pliable. If you get great beans you won't
need that many for a potent extraction. Nielsen-Massey Vanillas in Waukegan,IL.produces a great extract. They probably can help you source the choicest beans.
post #10 of 14
I would leave the bean in the extract when gifting (and what a nice gift it will be). My vanilla, made from the Madagascar vanilla beans, always has a bean in when purchased.

Almost 30 years ago my aunt gave me a large bottle of home-made coffee liqueur (think Kaluha) and the bean is still in the bottle with the remaining liquid. :beer:
post #11 of 14
Given how expensive vanilla beans can be, leaving the bean in would show that you REALLY like the giftee. :lol:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #12 of 14
i to would say leave it in. when i get vanilla extract and have extra beans lying around i usually put one in my vanilla extract to help it out that much more.
post #13 of 14
Yep leave it in. Mine have been in there for four years now.

I like using cognac. Remy Martin VSOP. ;)
post #14 of 14
To get a really strong extract I typically have/do 3 things:

1) Split and scrape out the pods thoroughly. You can put the pods in too of course, but having the pulp directly into the liquid helps tremendously and speeds up the process
2) The higher percentage of alcohol the stronger the extract. That's why someone earlier suggested 'everclear' since it's the strongest you can get. (although 'flavored' extracts using different alcohols are also nice depending on what you like, rum for example is great...but different and not as versatile)
3) Lastly, I put the pods and pulp into the bottle, heat the alcohol to about 120 degrees and then pour that into the bottle. Cap the bottle when cooled down, and shake the bottle then and every week or so for the next few months.

You could always throw in whole beans as well with the pulp if the split pods aren't as pretty to you
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