Friday, November 26, 2010
Vanilla, Mint & The Extract Experiment
For those of us who celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S., I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday filled with love, family, friends, delicious food and a lot to be thankful for. And for my friends around the world, I wish you all the same and a joyous holiday season ahead.
Today's post is simple and short, but something I'm really excited to share. All of us bakers, often or occasional, know how quickly we can go through vanilla extract, so when I came across the recipe for vanilla extract quite some time ago and saw how easy it was, I knew it was something I'd definitely get around to making.
Because I also use a lot of mint in homemade ice cream, I thought I'd give that one a try, too.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
You only need two ingredients:
Vanilla Beans, 3-4, split down the middle
1 Cup Vodka
And patience for one month.
For the mint, I used a handful. (But wait, we'll talk about this version in a minute.)
Simply fill a clean jar with 1 cup vodka and 3-4 vanilla beans split down the middle. Cover tightly, shake well and store in a cool dark place. You'll keep the jar stored in a cool, dark place for 1 month, continuing to give the jar a hearty shake once or twice a week...
After one month, you'll be left with an all natural, old-fashioned, full-bodied delicious vanilla that will easily take the place of anything you could buy in the store. I just can't stress enough how much I LOVE this vanilla. I've already made a second jar in preparation for the holiday season. Only this time, I mixed Tahitian and Bourbon Madagascar beans, where the first time I only used Tahitian.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the mint extract. The principle is the same; Store in a cool, dark place, shake, wait a month...
After a week the mint started to turn brown and the vodka took on notes of the dying herb (imagine cut flowers that have been left to die in a vase). Curious, I tasted it and it is very minty, but stale nonetheless. Alas, that extract will be thrown out.
My grandmother said this homemade vanilla ice cream reminds her of her childhood. I'd say that's a ringing endorsement for making your own extract.