Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Enough Vanilla Extract for Seven Years?

I knew we were running out of vanilla extract, but kept trying to convince Karen to put off buying the stuff and falling prey to the vanilla extract extortion scheme that is the local baking supply isle. I'd seen it on clearance at Marshalls; 8oz for $7.50. I think the price is higher for half as much at the grocery store.

On my way home from work this week, I popped by Marshalls and found the bargain I'd seen before, but next to it I also found a bottle for about the same price that contained three vanilla beans, but no extract. The instructions said, slice the beans down the center, return them to the bottle and fill with 16oz of vodka and let it sit for 4-6 months. After that, I could use it as I would any bottle of extract and keep adding vodka to replenish it (for up to 7 years!). All this from three vanilla beans?

Well, I bought it and I've started my batch. I even bought an attractive bottle of premium vodka that purports to be "eco-friendly," was on sale for $5 off, and came with a $10 rebate card. Cha-ching! Okay, the green themed graphic design also made me swoon, but I'm just a sucker for progressive promotions and manipulative marketing campaigns. Probably makes me think I've relocated to the left coast.

This DIY vanilla extract story just sounds too good to be true, right? I did some research and one site says that you must use "SIX (6) whole beans to make ONE cup (8 fluid ounces) of single fold vanilla extract...Anyone who tells you any differently is just teaching you how to make vanilla flavored booze." The person behind this "indistructable" really seems to know his/her vanilla, but I'm not quite willing to accept that I was only using 1/4 of the vanilla beans needed to make certifiable extract. If you have any leads on some kind of confirmation, let me know (not the FDA's mathematical formula, please).

One deal that you can take from this story that is guaranteed is decent quality vanilla beans. They're probably about $3.50 each bean at gourmet food stores (and every recipe calls for a whole one for sure). At Marshalls, you get three in an attractive reusable bottle for $7.50 (but only $5.00 at TJ Maxx) last I checked. Buy enough of them and you can use some straight and maybe make some extract using whatever ratio makes sense to you.

1 comment:

  1. You can get a dozen gourmet vanilla beans on ebay for ~$5 (includes shipping) if you want to do some more experimenting on the cheap. Simply go to ebay and type in "gourmet vanilla beans" in your search.


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