Vanilla Project

Ever since I tasted homemade ice cream with scraped vanilla seeds years back, I fell in love with the warming aroma of vanilla.  The recipes I have attempted recently usually ask for vanilla extract or vanilla sugar, so that spark another endeavor on my part, trying to make both of them at home.

It might seem daunting, but it is actually very easy.  Make sure the vanilla beans you use are plump, moist, a bit oily to touch, and shiny.  For vanilla sugar, the ratio is 2 cups of granulated sugar to 1 vanilla bean.  Make sure to use a clean glass jar, pour the amount of sugar into the jar, and stick the vanilla bean in the sugar.  You may cut open vanilla bean long way and scrape the pod, or leave it intact.  After sealing the jar, give it a gentle shake and keep it away from sunlight.  It takes about 2 weeks for the sugar to absorb the aroma.

I am tempted to open the jar to take a whiff everyday!

Vanilla extract is equally simple.  I got a small bottle of vodka (you can use bourbon as well), and stick vanilla beans in it.  I cut the vanilla bean into segments, so the oil in the pod will slowly seep into the alcohol.  Most conventional vanilla extract contains corn syrup, but I might leave it out in this batch to see how it goes.  Again, give it a gentle shake everyday, and you will see the color of the liquor gradually darkens.  It takes about 3 months or so for the extract to have a nice body.  As you use the extract, you can replenish the alcohol to perpetuate the beans.

Luckily, I cannot take liquor well, otherwise, these bottles will not be full by now!

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