Tuesday, August 19, 2008

DIY Vanilla

So for my birthday this year my mom surprised me with the most amazing gift basket filled with all sorts of yummy and gourmet kitchen gadgets and delights. Among them were some nice measuring cups and spoons, a few specialty cupcake mixes, a square cupcake pan (LOVE IT), a few sweet treats and hard to find ingredients, and lastly a package of CHOCOLATE pasta and a do-it-yourself Vanilla Extract kit.

I had never seen anything like the last two listed, so for an adventure I thought I'd share what I make of them. I figured I'd tackle the vanilla first and then do something with the pasta next week.

This little bottle threw me for a loop. I don't know why it never occurred to me before to make my own vanilla extract, but it just didn't. I'm a little surprised I was so slow on the uptake on this one because I am a major vanilla snot. It needs to be good and it needs to be pure and it better be fresh and not sitting around in the cupboard since 1980 or just forget it. After I got over being completely ashamed of my own vanilla ignorance I turned to google. There are lots of great instructions on how to make your own homemade vanilla out there, but for now, I'm going to try out this gift.

The instructions on the bottle are as follows: Split beans lengthwise. Fill bottle with premium vodka. Seal tightly and store in a cool, dark place for 4-6 months. Use as you would any premium vanilla extract. Replenish extract with premium vodka as used for up to seven years.

I did do one thing different. I added a 1/2 a teaspoon of corn syrup since it seems online most people have success doing that. Also, most online recipes don't call for such a long "brewing" time. It seems the general consensus is 30 days and make sure to shake it vigorously once a day.

The most exciting part of the process so far was obtaining the vodka. First off, I was terrified to just pop down to my neighborhood grocery store because just my luck the Relief Society President would show up in line behind me as I'm plunking down my giant bottle of Absolut. I was planning many a trip out of the area until I finally just bit the bullet this morning and went into the store at 8:00 a.m. I'm pretty sure the checker thought I was startin' out the day a wee bit early, but I looked past that considering she quelled another one of my small fears-- and that was to NOT be carded for the stuff. (Hey, I may be silly but a girl has to keep some small hope!) I figured at that point I was home free and quite proud of my clandestine errand, but unfortunately when I got home my visiting teachers were at my house--I had completely forgotten they were coming over early. Grrr... I'm sure it's karma. So instead of having to explain the bottle of hooch in my hot little hand, I left it in the car to retrieve after their visit.

Second, do you have any idea how many vodkas there are? I didn't know if I really needed to use premium or not, but I certainly knew I wasn't going to be shelling out 25 bucks for a bottle of Grey Goose when I didn't even know if this was going to work. In the end I called Jon and made him hop online for me to get some suggestions. I left the store with small bottle of Smirnoff-- just the right size to fill up my Vanilla bottle exactly.

After that it was a piece of cake. Now all I have to do is sit around and wait for the final product. I'm already planning my next batch and what I'll do different, but first I'll wait to see if I did at least this one right. If it does turn out, I warn all my friends in the immediate area now, Vanilla bottles are comin' your way for Christmas-- I'm on a personal quest to rid all kitchens in San Diego of chemical knockoff vanilla.


Amylouwho said...

real butter. real vanilla. it's the only way to go.

Camille said...

I laughed and laughed at your vodka experience! It was so funny I had to read it to Jared. YOU should write a book on all of your adventures!

Debbie said...

We all know you have a little secret... hee hee that was hilarious!!! YUM! Gotta try it!

RhondaLThomas said...

I agree with Camille! You definitely write a book!!!

Can't wait to hear how the vanilla turns out!!! YUM!!!

JP's Mom said...

Hi, Vanessa, I haven't seen you since the Happiest Kingdom on Earth, but such fun to find your blog (via JP's Place). This comment is re a previous entry, but didn't know if you checked comments on old ones. Your hilarious tale re the Resolve on the leather couch reminds me of an eerily similar feeling I had when your illustrious brother-in-law dumped a whole can of Comet on a newly waked floor just to see the pretty green stuff float. He was about two, and yes, I should have kept the chemicals away from my own "evil genious." Are we in trouble with so many of those in the world?

We should meet again at Walt's Place.

JPH3's Mom

Anonymous said...

Actually, that was a "newly WAXED" floor, "waked." So that's why they want you to preview these things.
JP's Mom

Sara Walker said...

Hilarious! I knew that you could make vanilla this way, but I've always been too chicken to break down and buy the vodka, and although it may come as a shock, we don't have vodka in our pantry... Now that I know you've done it, I'm totally going out on my own alcohol shopping spree, but I'm sure at my rate, I won't have it before Christmas, so a bottle of vanilla for your Christmas gift to me will be perfect!