Originally Posted by boar_d_laze
We've been making our own extract for donkey's years using vodka, rum or cognac. You won't get the same strength as commercial extract, but the results are significantly better than all but the very best commercial extracts. I don't know why you don't get good results; it's not a very complicated process. Split and soak. Soak some more. Then soak. It takes a few months.
There are a few very good sources for best quality vanilla beans at a reasonable price. We've been buying our beans from Vanilla, Saffron Imports aka "Golden Gate" since even longer than we've been making our own extract. I'm sure there's some other place as good, but I just haven't found it yet. They absolutely crush Penzeys for quality AND price.
They're also the best source I've found for saffron.
If you find any place better for vanilla or saffron, please let me know.
I never got any results worth using even leaving the beans more than a year in the alcohol. I think maybe the beans we get here are just crap, old and dry and tasteless. I never saw any place that sells beans "from" any particular place, just "vanilla beans" e basta. After a year, having cut and opened the beans, and left them in pure alcohol for a long long time, (not a lot of alcohol, mind you) and they didn;t even take on the color of light tea, never mind a richer brown that i expected, never mind even regular tea color. So i imagine it;s the beans. It's very frustrating because vanilla extract is almost impossible to come by here either. Everyone here uses this chemical white powder, fake vanilla.
Originally Posted by kokopuffs
I followed a recipe for a strawberry tarte in a book entitled THE COOKING OF PROVINCIAL FRANCE, a Time-Life edition. The recipe for the 'cream' (I don't know if it's creme anglaise, pastry cream or custard or what the F ever!), it calls for 1 tsp vanilla extract. Well, I took a bean from MySpiceSage and cut off a three inch piece. The stem was slit down one side and the innards scraped out. Everything, the innards and stem, were mixed with 1C milk and heated several minutes to extract the flavor, probably 35-45 minutes or so. The mixture was then strained and mixed with eggs, flour, gelatin yada yada and beaten to a rich thickness in a saucepan heated on the stovetop.
As to the finished product, the flavor seemed a bit less that subtle but I'll let y'all know in a few hours after the tarte has chilled thorough
My favorite tarte of all times, and one of my favorite deserts. I'm making it to bring for a dinner for 12 tomorrow - two of them actually. The cream is a bavarian cream, with the gelatine and the whipped cream folded in later. Maybe the flavor was strong because you hadn;t added the whipped cream yet?