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Old 16-11-2003, 04:17 PM
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Default Homemade Vanilla


Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade extract is easy and fun to make. It isn't as strong as commercial
vanilla extracts, but it may have a somewhat fuller flavor
than extracts from the market. But the real pleasure is in making it.

It doesn't matter which alcohol you choose for making extract - it's more a
question of which alcohol you prefer. Vodka has the least
flavor to interfere with the taste of the vanilla. Because rum is sweet,
it's the best for making cordials, and vanilla brandy is lovely to pour
over freshly baked cakes or to add to stewed winter fruits.

You can also add additional spices to the alcohol to make a spiced rum,
vodka or brandy. In Reunion, Madagascar, and the Caribbean
countries, most families have their own spiced rum blends that they serve
for sipping. Sometimes medicinal herbs are added to the alcohol
and used for coughs or stomach ailments.

For gift making, decant the extract into unusual bottles, add one vanilla
bean to each bottle and attach a label and voilà,
yo, you have a very attractive gift.

I sometimes tie a couple of extra beans to the bottle with raffia and
include directions for making more extract.

You can also turn your homemade extract into a vanilla cordial for a truly
unique and elegant gift.


Split five vanilla beans lengthwise down the center to expose the seeds,
keeping the ends of the beans intact. Place beans in a pint
of high-quality vodka, rum or brandy. Store in a cool, dark place such as a
cupboard or closet for at least four weeks. Shake the
bottle several times a week.

To use, either remove four of the beans for another purpose (you can add
them with a fresh bean to make more extract, or you can
use them for cooking), or let all the beans remain in the bottle, and
periodically, add more alcohol to keep the bottle replenished.
Eventually the beans will lose their strength but they should contain flavor
for many months.
Vanilla Cordial:

Follow the above directions for making extract. When the extract is at least
four weeks old, remove the beans from the bottle and
place in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup sugar and ¸ cup water. Bring to a
boil, stirring constantly. Continue to boil about 3 minutes
more, stirring occasionally.

Pour the syrup through the sieve lined with fresh cheesecloth into a clean
bottle. Next, pour the extract through the sieve into the bottle.
Add a vanilla bean to the bottle if desired. Allow the cordial to mellow at
least one week before using. If you want a cordial that isn't quite
this strong, double the amount of simple syrup.