Friday, November 12, 2010

our daughters' daughters will adore us

The other day I had to go buy some more liquor for my vanilla extract. That's always a weird experience, since I can't just pick it up at the grocery store and hide it under the bananas if I see someone I know. Sorry if I've cost anybody their testimony because you saw me lugging a big paper sack out of the liquor store. I promise I don't drink it unless I really, really want to.

I've been using gold rum in my vanilla, which is a bonus if I'm making a recipe that calls for rum--two birds with one stone, you know. But I've read that rum has fruity notes, and bourbon has caramel notes, and since I am not a fan of fruity vanilla I decided to try bourbon in this last batch. My palate is nowhere near refined enough to even tell the difference, but I like to think that someday, someone, perhaps a truffle pig, may appreciate my effort. Maybe next time I'll try dark rum--hey, maybe I'll have a bunch of different vanillas for different applications! I think I'll start a business now. Don't steal my idea. Except I wouldn't feel right about selling something that's so easy to make yourself. You guys, cast off the shackles of Big Vanilla. Buy some good beans, maybe cut a couple of them open, and plop them in the liquor of your choice--heck, use vodka if you want to be boring and pedestrian. Wait a month, and you're done. Here's what I do.

Homemade Vanilla
1/2 gallon Mason jar
12-14 vanilla beans
2 liters liquor of your choice (you won't use all of it the first time--the extra is for topping off)

Put the beans in the jar. Pour the liquor over them. Close the jar and give it a shake every now and then for a month or two. The process will go faster if you cut a couple of the beans open. I decant the vanilla into a smaller jar with a pour spout--something like this: I keep it on my counter and refill as needed. When the alcohol in the big jar gets down far enough to expose the beans I add some more. It is easy as pie, and this way you also have vanilla beans nicely preserved for whenever you want to slash one open and scrape its guts into your dessert.

You can use any jar you want, as long as it's tall enough for the booze to cover your beans.

I made coconut cream pie filling with coconut milk instead of regular milk this morning, and it worked like I suspected it might. Why have I wasted so much of my life eating shredded coconut stirred into vanilla cream pie filling and thinking that was good enough? Boo, old-timey cooks! You know better!


Whoa, people! I did not realize how much Frontier charges for their vanilla beans on Amazon. That is steep, steep. I get mine wholesale, and it's about $20, including tax, for about 30 beans.


tipsybaker said...

I hope you buy your beans on amazon -- so cheap. I think it works out to 44 cents per bean vs. $10.99 at Safeway.
I did dark rum and it was my favorite vanilla, but kids did not like at all. Next time maybe I'll try bourbon.

Layne said...

I get my beans from Frontier, and I've been so happy with them, because they're super moist and pliable, like Twizzlers. Are the ones on Amazon like that?

Melissa Cunningham said...

It sounds lovely and delicious and like too much work. I'd rather just buy it from you. Definitely start that business. This world is FULL of lazy people like me.

All8 said...

I keep meaning to do this. In a month, it would be ready for Christmas gift giving. I'm head over to check out Amazon, I've always looked at Beanilla.

tipsybaker said...

The vanilla beans I've gotten have been really good -- but it sounds like there are other excellent on-line sources. I should probably shop around.