I think it was some time in September that I found out that:
b) you could buy vanilla beans on eBay
I can’t even remember how I came across these facts, but I did think that real vanilla extract would be a great thing to give out as Christmas presents. The thought simmered in my head for a couple of months but it wasn’t until R and L suggested forming a consortium to buy a stash of vanilla beans that I actually got my act together. With two other friends we bought a kilo of A-grade beanz and I received them a couple of days before Xmas Day.
I think they look pretty awesome 🙂
There’s no real recipe for this – I spilt whole vanilla beans and then put one in each bottle. Other people snipped the beans in pieces but I like the way the bean contorts inside. One bean to 100 mL vodka seems to be a higher ratio of bean to vodka than is needed, but the beauty of the extract is that you can keep refilling the bottle with vodka until the bean is completely extracted. Apparently it takes 6-8 weeks or longer to make proper extract. My extract is dark and vanilla-y after less than a week so I’m looking forward to the final product in late February (expect to see a rise in baking then :-). I’m also planning to make vanilla sugar, vanilla olive oil and maybe some vanilla rum, but I’ll probably do this with used beans.