This year for my daughternlaws ,daughter I think theyll be pleased.Smells heavenly.
Good for you for having it all decided. I'm not there yet.
I'm doing that too. Got the beans, bottles and gotta get the vodka, hopefully today.
You might also consider making some homeade vanilla sugar. I love it in chai tea, regular tea, coffee, etc. I used to buy it from Penzey's and give it as gifts, but it's too expensive for me to afford now. I looked up recipes online but haven't given it a shot yet. I need to start thinking NOW about the Christmas gifts I'll be making. In the past I have given specialty preserves and relishes but I am so busy right now I just can't seem to find the time. But NOW IS the time!! :)
I am so in love with my home made vanilla! I've given some away, so I do need to start another batch. I too should start a few bottles and give it as gifts this year to cooking friends. I have about five or six nice bottles I bought to give stuff in. They're all flatish, half have rounded bottoms and look like cruets, and half are rectangular like a whiskey pint but with vines on them. All have porcelain stoppers with rubber gaskets.
Try other alcohol varieties besides plain vodka. Cherry vodka is a favorite as well as spiced rum. -Grainlady
Okay...I think I'm ready to start my vanilla. As I understand. it's just split vanilla beans, and vodka. If that's not correct, please tell me.
Oh dear, you're way ahead of me. I'm still thinking about canning tomatoes and pickling beets, I haven't even THOUGHT about Christmas. Until now. Sigh.
jude, that's all you need. Mine is made with rum in place of vodka, it was a gift from Loves2cook4six at one of our forum lunches.
Grainlady, flavored alcohols are a good idea, I'll bet that spiced rum/vanilla would be great in applesauce cakes, pumpkin roll, maybe bran muffins!
L, I agree, get more vanilla beans than you need for vanilla extract and just split them and put them in a container of sugar. It smells lovely and Penzey's is too expensive for what it is.
Good ideas. I give bottles of vanilla to guests. I have a cache of empty syrup bottles that I have brought home from Cracker Barrel over the years.
Oh Cathy, I'm wiping up the Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi all over my keyboard & monitor from reading your post! rofl
Somewhere, somebody is talking about their "cache" of empty mini-A&W Root Beer Mugs - you know, the many hundreds that we had stolen from our restaurant. Our monthly budget to replace stolen mugs was larger than our beef budget. We finally resorted to having my son casually wander the restaurant acting like the cute 2 year old he was - but actually he was on a secret "seek and destroy mission" to find empty mugs. When he'd find one - he'd grab it and run back to the kitchen with it. It sorta worked. Our losses lessened. :) lol
/tricia (who also gives homemade vanilla for gifts)
Homemade Vanilla in the center...
Unlike the root beer mugs, I thought you were supposed to take the bottles home when you took the syrup home!
If it's those individual bottles that they used to give you with pancakes, etc., I was told that they did not refill them, they were discarded...
They WOULD be the perfect size for a small vanilla gift, though!
Annie, you misunderstood me...that's why I put "rofl" after my first sentence. Cathy's syrup bottles reminded me of our mini-mugs. We filled them free for the kids but they were sure expensive "give aways" for us. ;)
never did it before, so here are some dumb questions:
where do you buy the beans?
how long do they have to soak/cook in the alcohol before you can use it?
what are the proportions - alcohol, beans, size of jar
if i missed anything, just let me know
thanks so much :)
Ok, sprtphntc, here goes:
I buy the beans at Penzey's because we have one relatively close, but you can get them on line or at bigger grocery stores with the rest of the spices.
They usually "soak" about 2 months before the extract is ready to use, more is fine.
Any size jar you want, most places I've seen says 3 vanilla beans to a cup of vodka.
Cut the beans in half lengthwise, leaving them attached at the top inch or so. Put them into a pretty sterilized jar, cover with vodka, shake. Let it sit a couple of months and you have vanilla extract.
When you use some, you can just top it off with more vodka and give it a shake, but I like to add fresh beans now and then. I've been using that bottle Ilana gave me regularly, I just keep "topping it off".
If you use vodka, use the strongest you can find - 151 proof if possible. The higher the alcohol content, the more efficiently it will extract the oils you want.
The best thing for most extracts is actually full-strength Everclear - I think that's something like 180 proof. Well, actually the best thing is pure lab-grade ethanol, but who has access to that? (Well, I did - 35 years ago when I was working for a medical school in the labs, they got it by the drum for cleaning surgical instruments).
My state prohibits the sale of full strength Everclear and rigorously taxes what little they do allow. You can't buy 151 proof vodka here (or at least I've not been able to find it) and the weaker strength Everclear cost me $20 - that's almost twice what a bottle of full strength Everclear can be had for online.
Oh well. Next time I'm in a state that isn't stupid about liquor laws, I'll look for some real Everclear. Its not like I'm going to drink the stuff, I just want to make some lemon extract, LOL!
zensojourner, Thanks for the reminder! Everclear is what I used for my last batch.
I think it was Grainlady who suggested a website for fat moist vanilla beans; anyway, I can't remember where I got them but they were great.
Tricia, glad it brought back memories.
thanks everyone for all the info, much appreciated!!!
now, i have to get moving, so all is ready for Christmas :)
I guess I have set myself up for failure. The directions I used did not specify what proof vodka to use....I got 750 ml 80 proof, I just made a split in the the beans...not split in two...they were not fat and moist. And...as suggested, in the directions I used, I put the beans in the vodka bottle, after taking some of the vodka out to make room, but they are still covered. Wahhh.
Jude, I'm sure you're fine. There are so many versions of this out there - including Ina Garten's which calls for 12 beans in a bottle with no mention of slitting, splitting, or proof - that I'd suspect they all work just fine. Probably just a matter of how concentrated it gets and how fast.
Jude, you're fine. I didn't split or cut my beans at all. I just shoved about 9 of them in a 5th of vodka [25yr old bottle of Fleishmanns that a friend had given me since she hadn't used it in 25 yrs. LOL]and shook the bottle every few days or so, mostly to see how dark it was getting. After a couple of months it was just right. I just left the beans in there, although I give one with the vanilla I give away, mostly for decoration. I figured by not splitting the beans they'll be all the better for vanilla sugar eventually. Btw, I only use vodka with mine because I don't like many other alcohols and dislike rum particularly.
I agree, Jude, yours is fine. I made some with plain old cheap vodka. Well, none of it is very cheap, but cheaper than the top shelf stuff. Definitely not everclear or high proof, just Smirnoff's, the regular stuff.
I made lemoncello with Meyer lemons and "plain ole vodka", I don't remember the brand, it was fine too, although after about 8 months I took it out of the refrigerator and poured it down the drain since I wasn't drinking it and it was taking up space. Mother and Elery only drink wine, neither of the girls drink, Dave and Kevin will drink a beer or occasionally a Jack Daniels and coke. Once in a while I'll make sangria, but that's about as wild as it gets, LOL.
This sounds like fun for gifts/hostess gifts. Another question: I buy Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract, which is made with bourbon. Could I use bourbon at home instead, or do you all think vodka is better?
I didn't do a search, Google or otherwise to find the answer to my question, but do I remember correctly that Everclear is like....moonshine? Don't ask where I got that idea because I don't have a clue. There was a time when that product could have put E. TN on the map. Remember Thunder Road??? That wasn't necessarily TN but it sure rolled through here.
Yes, Everclear is legal moonshine. Smiles.
Kathleen, in vanilla, Bourbon means the area the beans are from, not that it's made with bourbon. With that said, some people do make vanilla with bourbon. Would be pretty strong to me, but if you like bourbon, would be worth doing some in bourbon. I'd do some with vanilla too though, for milder uses.
Jude, my sister in law tells me that there is now a distillery in Gatlinberg that sells corn "likker", it's called "ole Smoky Moonshine".
I've attached a link in case you want to go buy a case. (grin)
Here is a link that might be useful: Ole Smoky Moonshine
I'm going to ask this again, even though it's been asked before...does anyone have info for online sources to vanilla beans?
I think I'm going to do this for holiday gifts too.
I've been told, here, that Vanilla, Saffron Imports is a good source. A fraction of the price of Penzey's, though I don't know how the products compare.
They seem to have four different choices, 'vanilla beans' (no further variety info given), organic vanilla beans, Tahitian and Mexican.
Any thoughts on these appreciated as I'm starting to contemplate making some as well.
Here is a link that might be useful: vanilla, saffron imports
Last time I bought vanilla beans I got them on eBay from a company called VanillaProducts. I was very happy with the product.
I got this idea for making vanilla from a Blog last year. I had the labels made online. I still have this bottle left.
I bought my last ones from saradooky on ebay. I bought 30 Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans 6.0" Black beans for $14 plus $2.67 shipping. They were nice and soft and luscious. They seem to be a bit more expensive this year but still seem like a darn good price and I'll buy from her again.
Here is a link that might be useful: Beans on Ebay
A website called Vanilla Review was helpful to me in looking for a good source for extract grade vanilla beans. After reading their reports and visiting the sites of several online suppliers, I also chose Vanilla Products USA for my needs. YMMV, I have no association with them. Their site also has detailed instructions on making vanilla extract. Link below:
Here is a link that might be useful: Vanilla Review
Smiling, Great website for this topic. I see some errors on my part that I can correct going forward.
Ssssshhhh, don't tell LindaC that I used Grey Goose Vodka for my vanilla. I don't drink but I was give a bottle of leftover GG after our girls beach week because I was the only one not flying home.
I'm glad Kathleenca asked the question about Bourbon, because I was wondering, too. It's interesting to find out it's the beans from Bourbon, not the alcohol.
Another question - do you use the fresh beans or the beans that have been soaked in alcohol to make vanilla sugar?
This also got me to wondering if home made vanilla would be a substitute for vodka in pie dough. It might add an interesting flavor.
Sally2, According to the instructions on the vanilla review site above, you can use either the fresh beans, or let the used ones dry out, to make the vanilla sugar. You can also put some sugar into the packaging that your beans come in and let it absorb the aroma for a while.
Thanks for your help, coconut-nj! I'm off to Cost Plus/World Bazaar for bottles.
I just checked Madagascar bean prices on Amazon.com. They range from $5.96 for 5 beans, to $14.50 for 1/4 lb/27 beans, to $44.99 for 1 lb/108 beans.
Here is a link that might be useful: Vanilla beans on Amazon.com
Thanks for the info.
This thread has inspired me to try this myself. Thanks!
I have been making homemade vanilla for years so I have followed this thread with interest.
Well, it came in handy last night at my DH's HS reunion. I don't recall how the discussion got on the HMV topic but it was just after one of my DH's classmates told me that he had a real crush on me. Okay enough of that, my point is that thanks to all of your input and helpful websites, I was the authority on HMV last night. I was surprised that the interest came from the guys. They kept saying, "why don't you just go to Publix and grab a bottle, that's what I do?".
LOL Cathy, that's funny. Hey, the guys should understand how much cheaper it is, even if they don't quite believe how much better it is too.
Apparently I've been paying this thread a bit too much attention too. Last night I had a visit from a dear old friend/classmate I hadn't seen in...well.. about 40 yrs. When he called he said he had a bottle of vodka and should he bring it. I said sure... I was just thinking I need to get another bottle for my vanilla. I was seriously chuckling at myself when he brought the vodka, some tonic and a lime. LOL.. He had 2 light vodka tonics and I had a cape cod. Boy I sure can't drink anymore. LOL. Anyway, he graciously left the rest of his stash and wished me luck with my vanilla. LOL. I'm sure he didn't want to head home to KY via DC with an open bottle anyway. Grins.
I did read in that tutorial about drying the pods before using them in sugar. I think I'll try that next time I make some vanilla sugar. Might try chopping this next batch of pods for the extract too. Experimenting is fun.
I just started a small batch to try. I just cut ten beans into about 1 inch pieces and put them in the bottle of vodka.
This is after one day.
This is after 3 days
I've made vanilla before but I see from this thread there are definitley some refinements I can make next time. I started this batch in May. Not sure how it will turn out because my beans seemed kind of dried out. I bought them at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati and they just sat in my pantry for awhile. I used Smirnoff vodka and I think there are maybe five beans in there? Probably not enough. My friend gave me this bottle years and years ago. It originally came with beans of course and it's been great to use to brew the extract.
I bought bottles at pier one with spouts ,handle cute,I went to liquor store was told 151 is rum,anyway I had trouble finding beans finallydid at a farmers market where theres a big section of spices etc,but 3.75 per bean,,geeze louise..anyway IOm sterilizing bottles tomorrow Im also making jam I froze blueberries, cherries,grapes to make jam.
bulldinkie, I don't know if it's any less expensive, but I know you can also get 100 proof vodka, although I don't think you need anything that high in alcohol level just to make vanilla.
I also freeze fruit to make jam. It's so much nicer to stand over a boiling jam pot in January than it is in July!
Annie,I just finished cherry jam,I froze cherries months ago,I also have grapes,blueberries,Im thinking of trying apple.Much nicer than July.I cant do alot I dont feelwell as I go for dialysis 3xs a week.I need a kidney.
You do not need Grade A beans to make vanilla. There are a number of online locations that you can purchase 1/2 lb of extract grade for $20. That is enough to make 1/2 gallon of extract.