Monday, August 1, 2016

MISSION: Vanilla extract, possible?

For those avid Lady E Cook readers you noticed I posted an article about  making your own vanilla extract. Well, I felt a little like a herblorist or alchemist while making this necessary and essential ingredient in my arsenal of baking "must haves". The ingredients for making your own vanilla extract are simple and easy... the worst part is something that my Sweetie says, I don't exactly have an abundance of... patience. Daily shaking for almost two months for two different bottles was fun and even taking a whiff or two in the process. At the end of the 60 day waiting period was the payoff worth while? Well.... kinds of.
Before I jumped right in and started baking I thought let me investigate a couple of things on the internet. 1) Should I filter the extract before diving in? I found no mention of filtering out the remnants of vanilla beans even though my guy at the Oaktown Spice shop said it's a step I might want to add. 2) Should the vanilla actually sit for a while longer? If so ... how much longer? A few websites said... 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, etc. No recipe was the same. Lastly, should the vanilla have a certain color? All just said caramel brown. Duh.
Anywho, the only way to find out the vanilla was ready ... was to try it. The good news is the extract had the right color, scent and texture. The bad news was something I didn't expect. Instead of sweet vanilla extract with NO hint of booze, what I tasted was Kentucky Bourbon with a hint of vanilla. Even filtered it wasn't similar to the extract I buy at the spice shop. All I could say, was "Bummer". But, being the Culinary Explorer I am ... I decided to go ahead and make whip cream. And, maybe... just maybe it would taste different. Nope. Not a chance it was more like bourbon whip cream dolloped on Jenny Craig Triple Chocolate Cheesecake. Not exactly the expected results. Tasty, but not what I want for my own chocolate chip cookies.
So, what's a woman to do? Try again. I used the batch of Vera Cruz vanilla beans bottle. Too bad it didn't work out as planned. The Vera Cruz beans smell delicious and most likely would be a welcome addition to a bourbon sauce or Bananas Foster over ice cream. It won't go to waste.... trust me.
Back to the drawing board with the Madagascar vanilla extract and possibly give that bottle just a few more months. What did I do with the left over Vera Cruz vanilla beans? I decided to dump them in the left over bourbon bottle and just see what happens. Nothing to waste, as my Daddy used to say.
This Culinary Explorer will try again... maybe call a friend or two and see what they've discovered.
Either way ... love will continue to be the main ingredient and I know one day my vanilla extract will make every recipe taste better.