Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

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Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

Postby Redwinger » Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:06 pm

For some strange reason, I've decided to try my hand at making my own vanilla extract. It seems pretty simple but I have a few questions:

Has anyone tried this and are the results worth it? If so, do you have a recipe you'd be willing to share?

Most of the recipes I've seen call for cheap vodka. IMO, most cheap vodka is awful and I'm afraid I'll wind up with bad tasting extract. (I'm sort of old-school with the philosophy of "don't cook with a wine if you won't/can't drink it"). Does the quality of the vodka affect the qullity of the end product?

Does the alcohol content of the vodka make any difference?

I'm probably over-thinking this, but that's just me.
TIA,
Redwinger
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Re: Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

Postby Bob Henrick » Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:21 pm

Redwinger wrote:For some strange reason, I've decided to try my hand at making my own vanilla extract. It seems pretty simple but I have a few questions:

Has anyone tried this and are the results worth it? If so, do you have a recipe you'd be willing to share?

Most of the recipes I've seen call for cheap vodka. IMO, most cheap vodka is awful and I'm afraid I'll wind up with bad tasting extract. (I'm sort of old-school with the philosophy of "don't cook with a wine if you won't/can't drink it"). Does the quality of the vodka affect the qullity of the end product?

Does the alcohol content of the vodka make any difference?

I'm probably over-thinking this, but that's just me.
TIA,
Redwinger


Bill, I have never made vanilla extract, but Instead of using a cheap (or any other kind) of vodka, why not just use some everclear and cut it to the alc % you want it to be. Or am I off in the deep woods again?
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Re: Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

Postby Larry Greenly » Sun Oct 22, 2006 12:16 am

Cheap vodka is not the same as cheap whiskey. Vodka, by its very nature, is tasteless ethyl alcohol filtered through charcoal. It has no taste and it's virtually the same thing as Everclear except for the proof. And both are made from grain. The potato thing is generally not true except for a few special brands. Bottom line: you won't tell the difference. And I'd like to hear about a blind taste test using Smirnoff vs Old Mr. Boston or some other cheap vodka.
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Re: Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sun Oct 22, 2006 1:50 am

I'm with Bob on this. I'd look for either Everclear or the strongest vodka I could find and then use it. My guess is that the higher percentage of alcohol would result in more vanilla flavor. I haven't made vanilla extract, though, so this is only a somewhat educated guess.

Mike

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Re: Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

Postby tsunami » Sun Oct 22, 2006 5:40 am

i use pure alcohol.

it has no wodka-taste and it extract well.

i do use always the allready used vanilla and but it into the jar.

you have only be carfull (and take them out) when the vanilla is not covert 100% with the alcohol (it coult get mold)

fot the rest... just add vanilla and some alcohol if you use some drops of the essence :wink:
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Re: Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

Postby Redwinger » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:52 am

Thanks for the help everyone. I like the idea of using the grain alcohol/Everclear...I can make multiple batches using different alcohol concentrations and see if there are any differences in the finished extract.
Thanks again.
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Re: Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

Postby Larry Greenly » Sun Oct 22, 2006 11:10 am

Everclear should work just fine. And, living in Indiana, you can purchase the 190 proof stuff (it's illegal in some states). The states are listed below:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everclear_(alcohol)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vodka
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Re: Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

Postby Carrie L. » Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:21 pm

I've had a running batch of homemade vanilla for years. I ran across a recipe that I recall was: one vanilla bean split and scraped, and 1 cup of vodka. I think I used Schmirnoff, or Absolute or whatever I had on hand. It was to sit for two months prior to using. It worked like a dream.
When it got low, I would just add another vanilla bean and fill the jar up with more vodka -- sometimes I use bourbon for a little variety. It really doesn't matter much. One caveat...I'm no scientist, so not sure if I'm creating a little botulism factory or not...although I haven't lost anyone yet.
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Re: Homemade Vanilla Extract Help

Postby Paul Winalski » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:30 am

Redwinger wrote:Most of the recipes I've seen call for cheap vodka. IMO, most cheap vodka is awful and I'm afraid I'll wind up with bad tasting extract. (I'm sort of old-school with the philosophy of "don't cook with a wine if you won't/can't drink it"). Does the quality of the vodka affect the qullity of the end product?

Does the alcohol content of the vodka make any difference?

I'm probably over-thinking this, but that's just me.
TIA,
Redwinger


At least in the US, vodka is required to be grain-neutral sprits distilled to the alcoholic strength specified on the label. In other words, tasteless. In fact, the cheaper the vodka, the less chance that there will be any flavor other than the alcohol. So yes, you want the cheapest and strongest vodka you can get your hands on.

The alcohol level makes a difference--you want it as high as possible, as it is the ethanol that extracts the essential oil from the vanilla pods. Everclear (pure 95% ethanol suitable for internal consumption [if diluted, of course]) would be ideal, and would give you an excellent vanilla extract. Short of that, try for as high an alcohol level as possible.

If you don't mind the intriguing rum flavor, a high-alcohol rum such as Goslings or Bacardi 151-proof would be excellent for this purpose.

-Paul W.
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Another point of view

Postby Jenise » Tue Oct 24, 2006 11:32 am

On the subject of whether or not vodka's are equal, I just read this in Cooks Illustrated last night: Does vodka quality matter in our penne recipe? To find out, we conducted a taste test of sauces (tomato/onion/garlic/red pepper flakes/vodka/cream) made with ten brands of vodka ranging in price from $7 to $34. To our surprise, nine out of 10 tasters favored the sauce made with the most expensive vodka noting a "fresher", "cleaner" flavor. It turns out that cheap vodkas are distilled only once to remove harsh tastes while premium and super premium brands are filtered three or more times--and you can taste the difference even in a tomato sauce. You don't neccessarioly need to cook with Grey Goose (winner of our taste test), but don't ruin your sauce with rot-gut vodka you'd never drink on it's own.

This from the people who on preceding pages said "While gourmet stores carry black peppercorns with exotic names (Malabar, Sarawak and the like) and origins, we've found the differences to be almost imperceptible." I disagree and so would many here: the differences between peppers is entirely perceptible. So if they who can't tell peppers apart actually think vodkas are different, I'm thinking they must have a point....
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Re: Another point of view

Postby Paul Winalski » Tue Oct 24, 2006 1:09 pm

Interesting. So the premium vodkas are better because they have less flavor. It might be cheaper to buy a bottle of Everclear and mix it 4 parts Everclear to 6 parts distilled water. That'll give you about 80-proof vodka of exceptional quality, since it's a roughly 40% nearly pure ethanol solution.

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Re: Another point of view

Postby Redwinger » Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:55 pm

The idea of Everclear was nixed by the lovely NJ..no rational reason, just wanted to stick with vodka. Seeing as this was our first attempt we kept it pretty simple. Three Madagasgar Vanilla beans split lengthwise into 500ml of "value priced" 100 proof vodka. I'll report back in 4 or 5 weeks and let you know how my science project is coming along.
Thanks to all who provided comments.
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Re: Another point of view

Postby tsunami » Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:00 am

ups.... :?

no one (me included) did you share a recepie.

http://www.bostonvanillabeans.com/vanil ... ecipes.htm

i would recomend, the 4x, with 24 beans for one cup alcohol :oops:

or as i do, yust collect in a small glass-jar the vanilla you have used (cut in small pieces) and leave it there for 6 month (thake the vanilla out, and start adding fresh "used" vanilla.) with time, youll get a good extract!


btw:
yes, it´s me :wink: :
http://www.bostonvanillabeans.com/party.htm
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Re: Another point of view

Postby Kim Adams » Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:25 am

Redwinger wrote:The idea of Everclear was nixed by the lovely NJ..no rational reason, just wanted to stick with vodka. Seeing as this was our first attempt we kept it pretty simple. Three Madagasgar Vanilla beans split lengthwise into 500ml of "value priced" 100 proof vodka. I'll report back in 4 or 5 weeks and let you know how my science project is coming along.
Thanks to all who provided comments.
Bill


That's because Norma knows that Everclear will probably blow up if she gets it too close to the burner. Aside from its proof, that's probably another reason why it's banned here in Michigan. :wink: Hey, we're gonna miss you guys this weekend.
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Re: Another point of view

Postby Redwinger » Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:56 pm

Kim,
Have fum in Cleve. this weekend. I'll live vicariously as Geo and/or Larry get notes and yarns posted on the Gang site.
Hope all is well with you.
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Re: Another point of view

Postby Redwinger » Fri Dec 01, 2006 10:17 am

Redwinger wrote:The idea of Everclear was nixed by the lovely NJ..no rational reason, just wanted to stick with vodka. Seeing as this was our first attempt we kept it pretty simple. Three Madagasgar Vanilla beans split lengthwise into 500ml of "value priced" 100 proof vodka. I'll report back in 4 or 5 weeks and let you know how my science project is coming along.Thanks to all who provided comments.
Bill


Well, I'm just a little over a month into this experiment and the vodka/vanilla mixture has darkened each day, and the nose which began as pure alcohol has taken on a pleasing/somewhat dense vanilla (imagine that :) ) aspect. I'll strain off a small volume soon to use in some baking projects NJ has planned, and leave the remainder to develop even more extraction.
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