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Deliciously Organic: Homemade Vanilla

Deliciously Organic

A blog devoted entirely to simple, wholesome, organic cooking.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homemade Vanilla

It still amazes me how many preservatives and additives are in the little things we use in the kitchen.  Take a look at the ingredient list on bottle of vanilla in your pantry; there should only be three ingredients - vanilla beans, alcohol, and water.  Most vanilla extract sold in stores is not a pure product.  Some vanilla extract contains a petroleum product called, "ethylvanillin" and some Mexican vanillas don't even use real vanilla beans but instead use "tonka" beans which can be toxic if consumed in high doses. Other ingredients found in vanilla extracts are: caramel coloring, sugar, and corn syrup.  If you are doing your best to bake with whole, organic ingredients then it's a good idea to make sure your vanilla, spices, and condiments are coming from good sources also.

After chatting a bit with some of the ladies from Rodelle (a company that sells some amazing organic vanilla) they informed me that in order for vanilla to be classified as an "extract" you need 18-20 vanilla beans per 750ml of alcohol.  They also told me that in order to get the best flavor out of your beans you can chop them up before adding them to the alcohol, or let the whole beans ferment in the alcohol for at least 2 months.  Homemade vanilla lasts a couple of years if kept in a cool dark place and there is the added benefit of having wonderful fermented vanilla beans in your pantry to be used in your baking.

A few months ago I decided to make my own, so I bought 25 vanilla beans from a mail order company (about $14 with shipping), and a bottle of organic vodka ($14).  I was able to make a large 24 ounce jar of pure vanilla extract.  (I normally would have paid over $60 for the same amount of organic vanilla extract.) The best part is that as you use your vanilla, you can top it off with some more vodka to make more! 

Homemade Vanilla
Yields 24 ounces

1 24 ounce mason jar (or other jar of your choice)
18-20 vanilla beans (chopped, if you don't have 2 months to let them ferment)
1 bottle organic vodka

Place vanilla beans in jar and pour vodka over beans.  Make sure the lid is on tight and store in a dark, cool place.  If you chopped your vanilla beans then let mixture sit about 3 weeks before using.  If using whole beans then let the mixture sit for 2 months.  Shake bottle before using. 


Blogger Crumbs said...

Inspiring! I have a question about the vanilla beans you bought: You were able to get 25 for $14? Perhaps I'm reading their site wrong, but on the Rodelle site I can only see 2 beans for $6.89 or 12 for $39.

November 5, 2009 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

There is a link if you click "mail order company". It is a company called Top Vanilla that sells incredibly priced vanilla beans. Hope that helps!

November 5, 2009 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Crumbs said...

I'm a fool. I see now that you went to Top Vanilla.

November 5, 2009 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger Yujai said...

This is great! I will try this after I finished all my vanilla powder and sugar. Thanks for the most!

November 5, 2009 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger Sky Blue 1971 said...

I'm about to make some Vanilla Extract also, you simply cannot beat a product in which you know every ingredient you put in it! Thanks for the recipe :)

November 6, 2009 at 3:01 AM  
Anonymous said...

Oh, what a beautiful picture! I just added vanilla beans to my white sugar, yesterday. One good bean can scent and flavor an entire jar (and I keep reusing the same bean until it is spent - so I actually get several jars worth out of it), making it heavenly.

It's like magic!


November 6, 2009 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Now this sounds really cool! I just bought a 4oz container from azure standard (flavorganics) for 8.50, but you're talking about 6 times that amount for much less! Is vodka the best? I suppose, since it doesn't have much scent?

November 6, 2009 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Katia said...

That's amazing. Another project for sure.

November 6, 2009 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Mallory Cervas said...

What is your definition of 'cool dark place'? I live in Houston so my house runs up to 78 in the summers. If i keep this in my pantry, is this too warm?

November 8, 2009 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

Mallory, that will do fine for a "cool dark place". I live in FL so I completely pantry stays at 78 most of the year also. THe most important thing is that it is kept in the dark.

November 9, 2009 at 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Hi! I think making food organic is great. I also think that making your own extract is the best idea since cake :-). I do have a question though could you use any kind of alcohol or is vodka the best?

November 19, 2009 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

You could also use an organic rum. Vodka is usually used b/c of it's clean flavor, but it also tastes amazing with rum.

November 19, 2009 at 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Thank you for the tip I will try both and see what I like best. I bet it would taste great with a rum cake that way. :-)

November 19, 2009 at 3:05 PM  
Anonymous troynvic said...

Do you discard the beans after 2 months or do you leave them in the jar while using the vanilla?

February 1, 2010 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

troynvic: You leave the beans in the jar...they last for years!

February 2, 2010 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger Susie said...

I am unclear on whether the beans you bought were organic? I didn't see anything about it when I clicked the link. Thank you.

February 21, 2010 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Susie said...

I emailed the top vanilla people about the organic status and the process of "curing". This was there response. Can't wait to try!

The grower associations we partner with have obtained Organic Certification from the EcoCert office in Madagascar.

After harvest, the green beans are ready to be processed. The beans are placed into woven baskets and plunged briefly into vats of hot water, to stop the growth process. The cooked beans are then sweated, by being wrapped tightly in wool blankets and stored for one to two days.

The blanched beans are then put out to cure in the sun a few hours each day, over a period of several months. The exact time of curing depends on a variety of daily conditions, including the amount of sun available and the humidity. Each day, after curing, beans are frequently worked by hand to improve their shape and texture. The beans are then re-wrapped and stored overnight indoors. This process occurs from the end of May until September.

February 22, 2010 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

Susie: thanks for the information!

February 22, 2010 at 2:18 PM  

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