JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Home-made vanilla extract

Lovely, easy-peasy recipe, the sort you just have to try straight away. Christmas presents (if you start this week). Once you've started, it can go on forever with the smallest effort. Melissa, at The Traveller's Lunchbox, whose idea it was in the first place, says this dark fragrant liquid gets more complex as time goes on. Lovely for baking.

This is what you do:

Get a one-litre jar. Put in all the pure vanilla extract you've got (I had 1/3rd of a bottle). DO NOT use that chemical vanilla essence; if you don't have any extract, leave out this step, it will just take a little longer to brew. Add cheap vodka, or any other spirits (rum? gin?). Chuck in all the vanilla pods in the house (at least six). Seal. Put somewhere cool and dark. Forget it. Add used vanilla pods when you think about it (rinse off the custard first!).

After at least six weeks, but the longer the better, strain off a little of the liquid into a tiny bottle. Add more spirit and more beans. (You can take out some old ones at this point if you like.) Seal. Put somewhere cool and dark. Forget it. Add used vanilla pods when you think about it (rinse off the custard first!). And so on, and so on, and so on.

If you think you might get into large-scale production, here's a link for buying vanilla in bulk in the UK. For the moment, I'm going to stick to buying it in Waitrose.

I'm including this in Heart of the Matter 8: Baking, which I'm hosting this month, because it occurs to me that this strongly-flavoured essence of vanilla would be wonderful for adding complex flavour to baking with little or no fat ... it's a sad fact of life that a lot of the flavour in all cooking comes from fat, particularly saturated fats - which means that, if you take those out of your cooking, you need to work hard on bringing in flavours from elsewhere.

Thanks, Melissa!


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

What a great idea!!! You are a true foodie creating all things from scratch. My admiration goes out to you!!!

janelle said...

I have SO been meaning to do this: thanks!

Cheers to great ideas for gift-giving!

Joanna said...

Thanks Valli - I'm lucky to have time for this sort of thing at the moment, although, actually, it's more time to think it through than to actually do it, because putting this together took less than five minutes!

Janelle ... I think home-made presents are the very best, and it's better for the giver if they haven't involved a stressful amount of time.

Katie Zeller said...

It's THAT easy? I hate the 'essence' crap. Now, to find some of the real stuff and ger started... 6 weeks, yeah, I can do that!

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Ooo thank you Joanna! This is sublime, and I haven't read about it before. Fabulous for Christmas gifts, indeed.

Cottage Smallholder said...

Thanks, Joanna. This is a great idea and would make a super present.