Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The gift of vanilla

I was talking to a foodie friend recently who had been to Paris and taken a cooking class while he was there.
He was generous enough to share with me, a tip he had learned during his class. I was so excited when I heard it, I nearly jumped out of my skin and couldn't wait to try it!
Home made vanilla extract!

The first step is to obtain some vanilla beans. Now, anyone who has ever purchased vanilla by the pod knows how expensive they are. But they tend to be less expensive when purchased in bulk. There are traders on websites like eBay who sell them for round $1 each in quantities of 50 or 100. Seems like a lot of beans, but not when you consider that this method preserves them indefinitely. You can also prepare small quantities in small jars to give as beautiful unique gifts for your foodie friends.
And this is what I did... except I made a huge jar!

Ingredients and equipment

1 glass jar with a good seal
vanilla beans
white rum, (enough to cover the beans in the jar)


Place vanilla beans in the jar and cover with white rum. After about 1 week, the fluid in the jar will become infused with the vanilla. Use this in place of vanilla extract in recipes, removing with a teaspoon as required.

If using a vanilla pod in a recipe, no need to slice and scrape those precious black seeds out. The pod will be moist and fat, having absorped the alcohol. Just pull one bean from the fluid, snip in half with scissors, and run your thumb and forefinger down the half pod, to squeeze the black seeds out.

Once you have finished with your vanilla pod, don't let it go to waste. Have another glass jar containing caster (superfine) sugar and place used pods in there for vanilla infused sugar.  This has many uses including sprinkling over fresh fruit.

If the level of your vanilla fluid drops after a bit of use, just top it up with more white rum.

As soon as I decided to do this, I knew that my lovely beautiful foodie friend Helena would be the perfect recipient of such a gift.

Helena is not only a fabulous cook, but a mummy of 2 and a jewelry and accessories designer. One of her many creative talents is to intuitively whip up delectable sweets.You can see her stunning collection of fashion accessories here.
So, with her birthday coming up, I knew that a jar of vanilla beans would not only be a beauiful and unique gift, but greatly appreciated, and very well used too. Indeed, the perfect gift!

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  1. I can say that I was the lucky person who got a rather LARGE jar of these divine Vanilla beans from Anne and I can say that they are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo beautiful. I have gone Vanilla bean mad........try some in double King island cream ontop of poached pears......sooo beautiful! Thank you Anne....xxxx

  2. Love vanilla, don't use it in my recipes often enough. This is definitely a great way to keep up a good stash!