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Homemade Vanilla Extract
October 07, 2010

I've been making vanilla extracts and sugars for many years. Here are a few tips: You want to purchase the grade B beans not because they are cheaper (which they are) but because they have a lower water content. That is the grade used commercially. By splitting your beans, or snipping into small bits, you expose more surface area, which makes a better extract. Commercial V.E. is macerated. Since my big pantry bottle of extract contains lots of chopped beans, I strain what I need into a smaller bottle for my cupboard, and for gifts. Don't be afraid to add more beans. I prefer a double-strength extract myself. When your extract runs low; no need to toss your beans out. You can continue to use them by adding more vodka and beans to the existing batch if desired. If you feel your vanilla extract is too weak, just add a few more beans (the drier grade B beans). Go ahead and experiment. Madagascar a.k.a. Bourbon beans provide the traditional vanilla scent you are probably expecting. Tahitian vanilla beans are softer and more floral. Mexican vanilla extract pairs very well with chocolate. Hope that was helpful! Want to learn more? Search Wikipedia, or check out the FDA quidelines for making commercial extracts which are posted online fda_dot_gov.

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