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Posts Tagged ‘homemade vanilla extract’

In my kitchen…

…is a special cut-resistant glove, knitted from hollow yarn with a wire core. Every month, when the moon is at a particular point in the sky, I turn into a kitchen disaster.  I cut myself, burn myself, and grate the tops of my fingers off.  So I went into Chefs’ Warehouse and told them I needed a glove to wear, just for one week out of every four, which would stop me injuring myself.  After the laughing had subsided, this is what they sold me…

In my kitchen…

…are treasured gifts from our friend Moo. Incredibly generous soul that he is, he arrived with a goodie bag the last time he was over from Adelaide.   The items below are just a small sampling of his largesse…

In my kitchen…

…is Big Boy’s lunch – a large potato cake topped with smoked salmon and Italian mayonnaise.  Potatoes and salmon are one of our favourite food combinations!

In my kitchen…

…are six bottles of Pete’s wonderful vanilla syrup, made using an aged bottle of homemade vanilla extract (March 08) that I uncovered in the bottom of the linen closet.    The syrup is dotted with black seeds which you can’t quite discern from the photos (most have sunk to the bottom).

In my kitchen…

…are more pomegranates!  I won these three from Not Quite Nigella. We  juiced one of them, resulting in nearly a full cup of ruby coloured sweet juice.

So tell me, what’s happening in your kitchen this month?

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lime curd and vanilla 006

Making your own vanilla extract is the easiest thing in the world.  All you need are vanilla beans, vodka and patience.  Split your beans most of the way through with a pair of kitchen scissors and pop them into a bottle ,  fill it with vodka, then let it brew for three months or more.  Give it a shake occasionally and marvel at how quickly it turns a rich, dark amber.

Start with six to ten beans in a 700ml bottle – ten is probably more than you need, but I bought my vanilla pods in bulk, so I have lots to play with.   As the  extract is maturing, I’ll also add in beans which have been scraped out and used for other cooking, so the bottle gets quite full after a while.  Trust your nose – sniff if occasionally, and when it seems strong enough, decant a little out  to use.  You can then top the bottle up with more vodka and allow it to mature again.

After experimenting with various spirits, I’ve found that vodka produces the most aromatic result.  I’ve had moderate success with a mild brandy, but after a few months, it still smells more of alcohol than vanilla.

When vanilla extract is made commercially, chopped beans are boiled up and percolated through a base alcohol.   This is done to maximise the extraction from the beans in the shortest possible time.  By contrast, cold macerating the pods for several months is a gentle process, and the vanilla aroma and flavour extracted from the beans is very pure and clean, without any stewed or cooked overtones. You’ll be able to taste the difference in your baking!

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Use this vanilla extract to make a wicked vanilla syrup!

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