Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Vanilla is a key component of many, many desserts and lushly flavored dishes.  I have always wanted to make my own vanilla and today I did.  When I arrived home and saw the package on my front porch from Beanilla a company that sells vanilla beans and other flavorings.  I also ordered a little bottle to store the vanilla along with lemon extract which I can't wait to use in my Lemon Meringue Pie.

Here's a little history about vanilla. Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla (V. Planifolia). The word vanilla derives from the Spanish word "vanilla", little pod.  Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican peoples cultivated vanilla and Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes is credited with introducing both vanilla and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s.

Below is the recipe I used.

-Sterilized Jar or Bottle with a tight, secure lid
-Vanilla Beans in your favorite variety (rule of thumb is 1 bean per 1/3 cup of alcohol) I used Madagascar Variety
-Vodka, but you can also use Bourbon, Rum or Brandy)

1. Use a knife to split the bean in half, leave about ½ inch at each end intact.
2. Put your vanilla beans in your glass bottle or jar and cover with vodka.
3. Close jar or bottle and store in a cool, dry place for at least 6-8 weeks. Give the bottle a shake every week or so. As you use the vanilla, simply add in more liquor to replace what you have used.

I have marked 6 weeks on the calendar because I can't wait to use my vanilla.  I did have 1 1/2 extra of the vanilla beans so I cut them lengthwise, scrapped out the seeds and added the seeds and pods to 1 cup of granulated sugar to make vanilla sugar.

Next time I will summon the Martha in me so that I can have a prettier label.  This is definitely low budget on my end.   I have seen recipes for lemon extract but I haven't tried them yet.  From my research and from other recipes having home made extracts is a great way to enhance flavor and make sure you have fresh ingredients.

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