Vanilla Extract


Why pay the man to make substandard vanilla extract when you can make your very own. You can pick your alcohol. You can pick your bean. You can adjust your vanilla bean to alcohol ratio. You can save hundreds. You can make gifts for friends. You can be quiet, listen and slow down.

All you are doing is sticking a bean in a jar with some alcohol. So hard? Can you handle it? Then you wait. You wait two or three months. You may need to not wait months because you’re impatient. And it will still taste great.

Of all the vanilla extract recipes I’ve tried, I chose Chef and Steward. It’s simple. It’s fantastic. Some people talk about heating or adding water and I feel that is wrong. – clean jar – some nice, juicy, wet vanilla beans – some alcohol. Stick them together, shove in a dark cupboard and wait. Get on with your life. Forget the vanilla bean project. Your work is done.

Here are some tips:

1) When the vanilla extract you used to buy before starting your new life as a vanilla extract maker says “Bourbon” … the alcohol used was not Bourbon Whiskey, it is a French island. Oh, do a little Wikipedia number and clear up some things. I’m not going to rewrite that.

2) Bourbon Whiskey might make for interesting vanilla extract. I’ve not tried it. Do tell.

3) White rum is a wonderful vanilla extract alcohol, but think about some alternatives. I used Armagnac (okay, husband’s idea.  there.  i said it). And let me tell you right here, right now, vanilla soaked in Armagnac is crack. “This is the best cookie I ever ate,” they’ll say. “What is this cake made out of, crack?” To which you can explain that the crack you used in the cake is but a dash of salt compared to the amazing vanilla extract you made and used in your confections.

4) Should you not live in the middle of Armagnac-ville, your local alcohol man can easily get you to the good stuff  if there isn’t any on the shelves. You can then flip your hair back and indulge in all your wankery that you know what Armagnac is.

5) Don’t use dry, sad vanilla beans.

5.5) Imitation vanilla is made from wood that was once friends with vanilla.  Don’t try to make that.  That is yucky.

6) After you’ve used your extract a bit, you can add more alcohol to the same beans and restart your date of commencement.

That’s it. Now get out of here. Back to work.



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