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Thread: Making Vanilla Extract Question

  1. #1
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    Making Vanilla Extract Question

    Hi all!

    I have been making my own Vodka Vanilla Extract for a year now and LOVE it! I can't seem to find my original "recipe" I followed, but it had I think a cup of vodka and (here is one of the questions) ? maybe a teaspoon of rum??? Anyone know?

    Is it the clear rum or the spiced?

    Also, I'm thinking of making Rum Vanilla now as I think it would enrich some breads etc when I make them - so would I use just all rum (spiced or clear) or add a little vodka to it?

    Odd questions I know-haha, but I'm also going to make one up as part of a wedding gift for my bf. And going to give a bunch of bottles for xmas so I'm starting now to get it all set!!!

    Thanks so much!!!
    Laugh when you can!!!

  2. #2
    Don't know about any recipe. I just fill bottles with alcohol of choice-and my choice is without a doubt, bourbon-then I add 3-4 split vanilla beans per bottle. I've never mixed alcohols. Pure vodka or pure bourbon. If you were to use rum, I might opt not to use the spiced variety, which will add a whole different flavor dimension.

  3. #3
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    I made vanilla extract once, and while it smells wonderful and works great, the color of it is much lighter than extract I buy. Is that typical or did I do something wrong? I would like to make some as gifts, but am hesitant because I don't like the way it looks "weak."
    Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.

  4. #4
    Goin'Coastal: In my experience, homemade vanilla extract is lighter in color than commercial varieties. Two things can help, however.
    1. the darker the alcohol, the darker the extract. Vodka produces a lighter product than does bourbon &
    2. more vanilla beans=darker color.
    My friend uses 2 beans to about 3/4 to 1 cup vodka & its quite pale. I use 4 vanilla beans to the same amount or less of bourbon & mine comes out several shades darker.
    Oh, and the longer it 'sits' the richer the color should be.

  5. #5
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    I've never made extract before but after reading comments here, I wonder if the rum was added to your recipe to give it a darker color. If so, I'd try a dark rum. I recently had a really good one but can't remember the name. I know it wasn't Myers but I'd have to go to the store to actually see the bottle.

  6. #6
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    I'll repost something I wrote fall (from this thread) for anyone wanting to make vanilla. I read recently that US regulations require vanilla extract to contain 6 beans per cup liquid (I might be able to find the regulation posting if anyone really cares).

    To make extract, 1st choose a type of bean (Tahitian, Mexican, Bourbon, etc.) then choose an alcohol to use - at least 35% alcohol - vodka is very popular, but other alcohols work well too, eg rum, brandy, bourbon. etc. You can make 2 batches if you wish, using a different alcohol in each. Use a glass container with a good stop or lid (I use mickeys) and add (up to) 6 vanilla beans per 8 fl oz of liquor - many (including me in the past) have recommended fewer than that but the vanilla is fairly weak even after months of extracting. So add the beans, close and shake up. Put on a counter out of sunlight or in a handy cupboard and shake daily for a week or whenever you can, and continue to give the bottle a shake every now and then. It will take 1 or 2 or 3 or more months to get reasonably dark and smelling & tasting like vanilla depending on the quality of the beans.
    When you start using it, if you don't use a lot of vanilla you can just keep the bottle topped up, adding more alcohol (and more beans eventually) (I've old bottles with 2 doz. or more beans in them - another thing I do now is chop the beans into 1" to 2 " lengths so they stay covered if I don't add more alcohol); if you use a lot of vanilla I'd suggest starting 2 bottles and when 1 is used up start using the 2nd and add more beans and alcohol to the beans in the 1st bottle.

    Triathlon13 I see no advantage or reason to add such a little bit of rum or vodka.
    Cheers! Andy

  7. #7
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    Thanks hAndyman and everyone!

    I emptied my bottle of vodka in the 1/2 empty jar and put more vanilla beans in there (there is proably 12 beans in there now).

    I've decided I'm just going to make up another jar of rum vanilla - so now I'm just wondering if I should use a clear rum or darker (spiced?) rum? I'm not much of a drinker so alcohol has me lost..... I've been searching blogs etc... but all anyone says is "rum" and I remember when I made it a year ago I had bought the "wrong rum" - but don't remember which one I bought.

    Thanks all!
    Laugh when you can!!!

  8. #8
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    You can use light or dark rum but I would not use spiced rum. BTW dark does not equal spiced, read the labels carefully.


    "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself" ~ George Bernard Shaw


  9. #9
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    What Robyn said about the rum, but my favorites are straight vanilla flavor made with vodka and brandy. For some reason the rum flavor comes through too much for me and I don't' care for it in a lot of things I bake. The brandy I really like in some desserts and in things like stolen at the holidays. I make a batch about once a year -- twice if giving as gifts, and I like to rotate what I am using so that it brews about a year. For gifts, I like a couple of months or more, so it is not too early to be thinking about it.

    BTW, I bought some beans from Beanilla after seeing them mentioned in a cookbook I bought. They have really nice beans, in case anyone is looking for a source.

  10. #10
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    When I run out of vanilla, I sometimes simply sub brandy or rum, so that is the booze I use to make my vanilla. It gives it a nice depth of flavor. Of course, if you are a purist, then vodka will only showcase the bean.
    I don't think the booze used is a hard and fast rule unless you are a large scale mfg. that has to follow govt. guidelines.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  11. #11
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    I didn't know that about the rum Robyn1007 - I really am so "ignorant" when it comes to alcohols - the only ones I know I like are Malibu Rum, Kalhua and Bailey's - that is it! Thank you for letting me know!!!

    Hmmm... so now brandy is an option too... What brand of Brandy do you recommend? I'm really not a fan of brandy - do you think I'd taste it in things I make?

    Maybe I should stick to Vodka-haha. If any of you have a specific Brand(s) that you like, please send them along to the resident alcohol "idiot" haha. Hey this is a good education for me! Have to learn something never everyday, so today I will have learned I think 5 new things, love it!

    I'm going to check out Beanilla too because I'd love to get like 3 types of and make a little sampler to give away (and for myself - of course, haha). I think that would be fun and such a fun gift - well at least I'd like it)

    Thanks all!!!!

    M
    Laugh when you can!!!

  12. #12
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    I don't know that I have used the same vodka twice for vanilla. Some folks say you can use the cheapest brand and others say don't use anything you wouldn't buy to drink (not a bad idea if you don't plan to use it all for vodka). I tend to follow the later since I buy in larger bottles and don't want to have two vodkas most of the time. And I like knowing that the base is smooth enough that it won't impact the flavor of anything I am making. I am thinking of a recipe with a tablespoon of vanilla.

    My current brew is steeping in White Gold. I think the batch before was a potato vodka left over from making some fruit cordials. Both have been good. Now for brandy -- something drinkable but not the finest aged stuff. I also use Brandy for soaking my fruit for stolen. One year I bought a bottle of Landy's -- whether for the pretty bottle or on a recommendation, I don't remember, but I have liked it and been using it since. I have used less expensive Korbel in the past and it was fine, but for the small amount I use, I prefer the Landy's now.

    It is fun to try different beans. My shelf has Mexican, Tahitian and Madagascar Bourbon, and I have found that I prefer one over the others in certain things. I have a batch with mixed beans brewing, but I haven't used it yet. I think an assortment of extract from different beans and/or in different bases would be a nice gift (check out Specialty Bottle for the bottles in blue or brown glass).

    I enjoy making and using the extract. I wonder if I actually use more now that I used to or if I am just more aware of how much I use. I remember seeing a quart bottle of vanilla extract and wondering how you would ever use that much without owning a bakery. I now brew in quart jars.

    As fun as it is to make your vanilla, the nicest by-product of that effort is having more beans hanging around waiting to use them in desserts. The first time I bought vanilla beans in a store, I paid about $10 for two or three in a jar. I know I threw away one or two because I had saved them for something special so long that they were brittle. Now I order them in bulk and use them freely.

  13. #13

    Rum Vanilla

    I have a jar of vanilla that I made with a pint of light Bacardi's. I used it in some oatmeal bars & someone at work said that they tasted like rum. It took me awhile to remember that I had used rum vanilla. It's really good when I make French Toast w/brown sugar-bananas. I use the cheapest vodka for plain vanilla & add about 10 beans to the bottle.
    Dorothy aka Martha

    Somewhere over the rainbow...

  14. #14
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    Thank you both! That helped! I appreciate it - I'm one of those that needs to understand something to really know it - that is why alcohol is such a mystery to me - I don't drink much or cook with it much so not a lot of experience with it!

    I might buy some bacardi this time and then I'll have a vodka and a bacardi going. But I'm definitely going to buy a few types of beans to brew!

    I don't buy them much - only because I"m "trying" to decrease how much I bake and cook desserts-need to get away from so much flour and sugar!!! But I do love my vanilla!!!!

    Thank you all again, very appreciative!!!!

    M
    Laugh when you can!!!

  15. #15
    Wow, this is definitely a very informative thread! I've been interested in making my own vanilla for awhile now but wasn't sure where to start. Thanks for all the tips
    Exploring the restaurants in my backyard and cooking up a storm at MassachusEATS!
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell18 View Post
    Wow, this is definitely a very informative thread! I've been interested in making my own vanilla for awhile now but wasn't sure where to start. Thanks for all the tips
    Hi Reb, it is also a good time to use all those pretty bottles if you have been saving them.

    Reb and Michelle, in the name of science and friendship, I just did a little test. I have two bottles going. One with light rum (can't get the top off) and one with vodka. I tested the vodka one and wow is it strong. It is 7 years old and has been evaporating all this time. I don't use it very much because when I am baking with the GK's I use store bought vanilla. But it is in a pretty bottle Will have to wait till DH is home to test the rum one.

  17. #17
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    Oh Cookieee, you are awesome!!! Please let us know what your thoughts are when you get that darned top off:^)

    Rebel - I love my homemade vanilla, but then I love pretty much anything homemade. Making vanilla was one of the easiest things I've ever done! It is usually 1 cup of liquor (vodka usually - 40% proof - or however you say that) to 3-4 vanilla beans. I'm sort of one of those that says "more is more", so I'd use more beans, but that is the average 1 cup 3 beans. cut the beans up the middle leaving about 1 inch attached and put in the jar of vodka - some people scrape some of the vanilla out of the bean and put in the vodka with the rest of the pod -I haven't done that, but am thinking I might with the next jar I make. (if anyone has a better or different way they do it, please share). Then just put in a cupboard or other dark area for at least 6 weeks, but the longer the better. And give it a shake like once a week - At that point your are officially a homemade vanilla maker-haha - you like that title - I came up with it myself.

    Again, if anyone else has good ideas, please share!!!!! Thanks so much everyone!
    M
    Laugh when you can!!!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triathlon13 View Post
    Oh Cookieee, you are awesome!!! Please let us know what your thoughts are when you get that darned top off:^)
    Michell, DH is just now telling me that he has used both of them when ever he has made french toast (switching back and forth, not together).The rum one is almost gone. But I do like it better than the vodka one. We also compared them to McCormic organic vanilla. It tasted just like our vodka one. Now DH wants to make some new with bourban.

  19. #19
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    Yay!!! Thanks so much Cookieee! I would think the rum one would add a new dimension to breads, french toast etc... So I will def do that!

    Do you know exactly what rum you used?

    M
    Laugh when you can!!!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triathlon13 View Post
    Yay!!! Thanks so much Cookieee! I would think the rum one would add a new dimension to breads, french toast etc... So I will def do that!

    Do you know exactly what rum you used?

    M
    Your quite welcome

    Oh dear Michelle, that was 6 or 7 years ago. The bottle just says light rum. Sorry The other day when we tasted it, it had a delightful aftertaste that is very hard to describe, but enjoyable. More so than store bought one.

  21. #21
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    Haha, so after you just got done telling me you couldn't help me you explained how wonderful the "light rum" one is-haha - gee thanks Cookieee. Haha, totally kidding (my humor is just bursting out - hope you can read it that way, haha, I was actually chuckling reading your reply).

    I'm sure I can figure it out in this web wide world.
    Laugh when you can!!!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triathlon13 View Post
    Haha, so after you just got done telling me you couldn't help me you explained how wonderful the "light rum" one is-haha - gee thanks Cookieee. Haha, totally kidding (my humor is just bursting out - hope you can read it that way, haha, I was actually chuckling reading your reply).

    I'm sure I can figure it out in this web wide world.
    I thought you meant the brand name of the rum, not the type. Coming from you, of course I read it the right way

  23. #23
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    Oh, no, you read right - I did want the brand!!! You are exactly right!!!!

    This is one of the reasons I don't like media writing - but then we'd never have this forum and have met an awesome group of people if we didn't have the internet.

    I work all day again today, but I'm hoping to get to the liquor store tomorrrow and see what I can find!!! Sometimes my day off gets filled with errands, cooking and cleaning before I know it- so if not tomorrow then Friday!!!

    Have a great day!!!!!
    M
    Laugh when you can!!!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triathlon13 View Post
    Oh, no, you read right - I did want the brand!!! You are exactly right!!!!

    This is one of the reasons I don't like media writing - but then we'd never have this forum and have met an awesome group of people if we didn't have the internet.

    I work all day again today, but I'm hoping to get to the liquor store tomorrrow and see what I can find!!! Sometimes my day off gets filled with errands, cooking and cleaning before I know it- so if not tomorrow then Friday!!!

    Have a great day!!!!!

    M
    Michelle, you have me so confused I don't care, as long as I get to talk to you. You will have to tell me some day how you are doing at work ok?

  25. #25
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    Haha, sorry. I knew it was confusing. Doesn't help that I was writing before I was heading out to work and was already late getting out of the house (not un-normal for me-haha).

    Work is going ok. LOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNGGGGGG days!!! My normal 12 hour shift can be any where between 13-14 hours, so I'm not going to lie- some days I leave and end up in tears on the way home saying to myself "what did I do? I had such a great career that I loved and had such an easy schedule and for some reason i wanted more. I hope I didn't ruin my life!" But then I have days that I feel I actually did ok and made an impact. I recently had a New mom and dad (he is a family nurse practitioner) drop a card off for me at the hospital - in it was a picture of me and the baby that they had taken and a beautiful note about what a great nurse I am and how I have found the right field and they were so lucky to have me. I've talked to many friends who switched careers into nursing and they say it took them about a year to feel like they didn't make a mistake. I have told myself I need to hang on for 5 years and if I am not happy I will figure out a way to get back into fitness, but I think it will be ok! I just need to get used to not knowing what I am doing!

    But other than that it is ok. I have a preceptor that isn't really working for me, so they are working to change that - I like a lot of teaching and she doesn't really talk. I"m a good learner so I just need someone to work through it with me and I've got it! Esp since I'm mostly working with kids.

    How are you? What is new? How is your summer looking? Lot's of races scheduled here (1/2 marathons, triathlon and 24 hour running relay race). So happy to get back to life.

    Thanks for asking and sorry to be so confusing-haha.

    ~M
    Laugh when you can!!!

  26. #26
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    Hi Michelle, that is a lot of wisdom there. I'm glad you are giving yourself some time. That was nice of those people to say that about you. I'm sure you will be getting more praise as time goes by. I can't imagine anything more gratifying than helping children. So good to hear from you.

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