Thursday, August 20, 2009

Real Vanilla NOT Immitation

They say that imitation is the best form of flattery.

I beg to differ when it comes to using vanilla in my kitchen. Fake vanilla is comprised of Water (that sounds natural enough), Propylene Glycol, Artificial Flavor, Caramel Color, Citric Acid, and Sodium Benzoate.

Umm . . . where is the vanilla in vanilla?

OK . . . I will give you a dollar to put in your bank that imitation vanilla is less expensive than vanilla extract. But after that, you lose.

Personally, I would rather spend a few extra bucks to know what my ingredients are that I am ingesting. Don't you wonder what concoction of chemicals created the artificial flavoring that mimics the vanilla taste and smell? I actually have an idea, but it is a LONG and COMPLICATED process.

Let me at least save you a little bit of money. Make vanilla on your own--in your own kitchen!

All you need are TWO ingredients: 2 vanilla beans and Vodka (or brandy).

Lay your vanilla bean on a cutting board and slice the bean open, making sure NOT to slice the bean into two separate parts.

Once your bean is sliced like a hot dog bun, gently open the bean up to expose the vanilla seeds. Leave the seeds in the bean.

Place the entire bean in your mason jar or any glass jar. If need be, go ahead and horizontally slice your bean. It is important that the entire bean be immersed in the alcohol. If you are using two beans, you can add approximately 3/4 cup of alchol to the jar. Use 1/2 the alcohol if you only have one bean, like me.

Cover your jar and let it sit in a dark place for at least two weeks. Below, on the left, is the vanilla I made today. The right mason jar is some vanilla that was made several weeks ago.

Please note, if you are baking something using my vanilla recipe, use caution if you know that someone who struggles with drinking will be eating your culinary creation. Typically, most people say that alcohol cooks out of food when heated, but be mindful of the person you love.

Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble,
I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother
1 Corinthians 8:13


Natalie said...

I have been wanting to try this for sometime, thanks for explaining it for us! Are you going to leave the bean in the jar until it is all used up? I hear the longer the bean is in the jar, the better the vanilla is.

Kari said...

Beautiful - something I HAVE to try. How exciting. I stopped using fake vanilla about 16 years ago. Being an avid dessert 'maker' I have issues using 'crap' (best word I can find) ingredients. Yay for this post :o)

Kristen McG said...

Hmmm... do you have a way that doesn't use alcohol? I would LOVE to make my own, but feel funny about having alcohol, even for cooking, in the house. And where do you buy vanilla beans??

GranolaMom4God said...

Natalie, yes leave the bean in the jar until all of the vodka or brandy is used up. Additionally, you can add more alcohol as you use it up and replace your bean every so often. You will see floates and this is OK.

Kristen, I don't know of any other way to create real vanilla extract. I struggled initially with the alcohol. The first couple of times, I had my mom go buy it for me--when we were in charge of Children's Ministry. I have gotten to the point that I buy it at Target when they have it on sale. But I usually have my mom with me still! It does stay in my house, but in the VERY back of my pantry! :)

Anyone else know of a way to make it without alcohol?

I get my vanilla beans through our coop, but in the past I have purchased them at Meijer and Kroger. They are typically about $7, but cheaper through Frontier cagalogue.

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing that, it never even occurred to me to try and make my own.

GranolaMom4God said...

From Diane, my cousin: "And also please let people know that there may be an allergen in what they're eating. I can neither consume traditional vanilla or imitation vanilla. Depending on the alcohol being used, it may have gluten. Not preaching, just mentioning."

millaa said...

Wow interesting! Thanks for sharing. I bet this'll save a lot of money over buying it. Vanilla is so costly. :)

Anonymous said...

Very impressed!! bonnie j.