Friday, August 21, 2015

Corn-Free Vanilla Extract

This vanilla extract has steeped for several months.
You can see that the vanilla beans have turned
 the vodka quite dark.
     Vanilla extract, like extracts generally, is about a third alcohol. This is because alcohol is an excellent solvent for leeching tasty molecules out of plants. Because of the subsidy on corn in this country, the alcohol in an extract is likely to have been made from corn. Fortunately, it is very simple to make your own corn-free vanilla extract using vodka.  

     Not all vodka is made from potatotes.  A lot of it is “grain alcohol,” and there’s no way to be sure what grain they’re using. Look for potato vodka. 

     Even if you’re allergic to alcohol, you can flavor desserts with vanilla. Keeping a vanilla bean in your sugar canister works surprisingly well, but you will probably need to keep two sugar canisters: you probably don’t always want vanilla sugar in your green tea or your BBQ sauce. Alternatively, you can simply slit a vanilla bean open and scoop a small bit of the soft interior into pudding base or cake batter in place of vanilla extract. Stir it in thoroughly.

     8 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and cut into 1/2" chunks
     750-mL bottle of potato vodka

     Drop the cut vanilla beans into the bottle of vodka.  Let the mixture steep for at least a couple of months, giving it a shake once in a while.

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