I'm a scratch baker and try to use only the highest quality ingredients I can get my hands on as a home baker. (I don't have a business, but bake for family and friends right now.) I'm considering starting to make my own vanilla and butter. Is it worth it? Any comments or insights from those of you who do this would be appreciated! Thanks!!
Butter, no. Vanilla, yes. God yes. Find Vanilla Products USA and order the high grade beans from there, and find a tutorial on vanilla making. Best stuff ever.
Agree, I wouldn't ever buy store bought vanilla again since making my own. I buy a litre bottle (pretty much a quart in US measurements) of vodka, and quite a lot of beans and just let it sit in a dark cupboard for 3 months. Shake it every now and then, the longer you leave it the better.
Here's a tutorial http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/2011/03/how-to-make-your-own-vanilla-extract.html
I'd say no to butter for baking, the cost and effort is not worth it. For eating/family use, it'd be worth it to try it and see what it tastes like as a one off.
I too make my own vanilla...I use bourban and vodka...at least 80 proof.
Once you make your own and taste the difference you won't buy store bought ever again...not to mention it's much more cost effective to make it.
Butter, I make for fun for the family but not for baking.
Thank you all! I will definitely try the vanilla. I'm assuming that the quality of liquor used makes a difference in the taste of the final product. It that right?
Yes and no. lol
You want at least 80 proof but it doesn't have to be the most expensive by any means.
vanilla, yes, butter, by mistake-not to hard to do, I mixed my whipping cream too long and it turned to sweet cream butter---delicios, will make for the holidays.
Do you recommend using bourbon or vodka? Or can you do both? I have a ton of everclear I need to get rid of from making limoncello last year, can I use that?
I've seen recipes where everclear was used but I've not tried it.
I use 3/4 vodka to 1/4 bourban in a clean sterilized 1.5 liter bottle...I go a little nuts on the pods I use probably 1/2lb of van pods for this size bottle.
So, you use vodka and bourbon together? I don't know why, but I would not have thought to do that. I'm getting excited to try this! Thanks so much for all of the advice!
Keep your Everclear for limoncello.
I disagree about the vodka brand. Cheap vodkas are not as smooth as the more expensive ones. I use Grey Goose 80 proof, 2 c to 16 beans. But I capitalize on the fact that I use Grey Goose in my descriptions on my site. I use many spirits and liqueurs in my baking. In every case, I have found that the best top shelf brands impart a better flavor. In the case of vanilla, Grey Goose will bring the price up substantially.
I just made chocolate chip cookies for my daughter's school carnival. In the first batch I used my combination homemade/paste. Then reality hit me about how much I was using up for a charity function. I switched to McCormick's. I could tell the difference.
This might be a silly question: Can vanilla b infused in anything else other than alcohol?
You can put it in any spirit, in fact, manufacturers have done that. Go to the liquor store for inspiration and you will see the possibilities. But stick with the spirits. Liqueurs will probably do best if vanilla was added in the form of the extract or paste, or probably not at all. They already have a flavor combination.
I really want to do the vanilla thing, but I'm concerned about consistency. Does the flavor continue to develop after 3 months? When I buy it at the store, I know every tablespoon is the same. I'm afraid that the vanilla I use at 3 months will taste totally different than the vanilla I use at 6 months. I read that you leave the beans in the bottle, do you guys do that, or do you remove them? Do you strain or keep the tiny seeds in there? Any thoughts from those with experience?
Sorry so many questions...I've been thinking about this for a while! LOL
I use so much that I end up using it up before it gets old.
If you have it around for a year than maybe you'd want to remove the beans.
As I said I make it by the liter and a half, not gallon, so I go through approx 4 to 5 bottles in a year.
I strain one bottle and keep the beans in another. Depending on what I'm making I like to have both on hand.
I think a good middle of the road price range Vodka/Bourban is fine for extract...really you want at least 80 proof and the key is to buy good plump beans, not the dried up ones Amazon or BJ's sells.
Spend the money on the beans, that's the most important element in my opinion.
I use Stoli Elit for my vodka and I can't recall the name of the Bourban I use, I'll check when I get a chance.
I also use Stoli Elit for my vanilla extract, and have one bottle going while I'm using another. I do buy vanilla paste, but I'm going to start making my own vanilla-flavored syrup soon.
imagenthatnj, I did the math on the homemade vanilla with top shelf vodka and it came out to close to vanilla bean paste in cost.
I am very interested to hear the outcome of your syrup. I have seen that not all VBP is equal. NM is far superior in taste to Silver Cloud, inmy opinion. So why couldn't we make our own? That vanilla I make is like nothing I have ever tasted.
Oh, for some reason I stopped getting ANY emails from CC, again...Susan, I've bought NM vanilla bean paste, but not Silver Cloud. I didn't even know there was another kind.
I used to read "In Jennie's Kitchen" and at the beginning of the year she had this post about NM vanilla bean paste, and a little recipe on how to make your own vanilla syrup. She didn't have the seeds in there, though, so I left it for later.
Then, sadly, her husband died unexpectedly, there were news all over the internet about it, and I went back to read all her recipes again.
At the same time, I finally got my hands on the Gordon Ramsey Desserts book and the first section deals with syrups in all flavors (it's simple stuff that I think you make already...syrups, reductions), but all the combinations are there and are the base for his coulis and glazes, so I'll start trying them.
But I'm still going to have the NM vanilla bean paste on the side!
imaginethatnj: Is that Gordon Ramsey Dessert Book one that is easy to get ahold of now? Or has this been awhile? If it is current maybe I can find it at Barnes and Noble or have them order it? TIA.
Hi Jules, I looked for it for a while. The american version (Just Desserts) is out of print, I think.
Then I looked for the UK version (Desserts), which has been reprinted a few times (twice in 2010).
They have it at Amazon in the UK. Not even sure how I got it, but I'll figure it out in a minute. It has no cake recipes, but all kinds of mousses, crepes, ice creams, soufflés, cookies, meringues...and all the creams and liqueur syrups I can think of. Lots of tips, including adding a teaspoon of liquid glucose to the syrup in Italian Meringue to avoid crystallization?? I never thought of it.
Just wanted to make sure you know it's not a cake book.
Here's the link where I found them.
Make sure it says NEW. There are different places you can have it delivered from. And different prices.
It is so crazy because I went to that book place (alibris) and searched inside of their website, on the Search box up there, and typed Gordon Ramsey, and it comes out empty. I had to go to Google and type their name and the name of the author and the name of the book, to finally get it. Still surprised that I got it since I've been looking for a long time.
imagenthatnj, I am also very curious to hear how your vanilla syrup turns out. Keep us posted! I may have to try my own version of that too.
Imagenthatnj, I still usually use a combination of vbp and homemade. They taste great together. The vbp is sweet and the homemade is bold. Plus, my little black specks are always at the bottom of the jar, so the vbp adds the specks.
Me and my cookbook addiction... looks like another good one. Thanks.
Imagenthatnj, I just ordered it. Thanks. If you like books like that, have you checked out Sugarbaby, by Gesine Bullock-Prado? There are so many recipes that can be accompaniments to baked goods. I love that book.
(sigh). Not getting any emails at all, and too many threads to keep track of!! Hope it gets fixed soon.
Susan, yes, I have Sugarbaby. I love her blog and her book. It's crazy but what I wanted to make the most out of her book was the rock candy. It looked so pretty! I think we talked about this book long ago on another thread. You ordered it, told me about it, then I ordered it.
I found this alcohol free vanilla extract recipe. Any1 tried it?
Alcohol Free Version:
2 vanilla beans
12 oz glycerin
4 oz warm water
Slit bean down middle and scrape downs seeds. Place both in glycerin and warm water. (softens pod) Place in dark place. Let sit for a month or so. Shake often.
You guys might also want to check this thread, I found it very useful, then youtubed a few "how to" vids, and then made my own two nights ok!
I agree, a better vodka is worth it. Besides, if you dont use all the vodka (I used 2/3 bottle) then you'll be needing to drink the rest and you wouldnt want a nasty vodka for that haha.
Can vanilla b infused in anything else other than alcohol?
Yes. It can be infused in oils.
Alcohol based vanilla extract can be very haphazard depending on the amount of alcohol and type of bean used. It's a poor choice for cold desserts as the alcohol does not cook out and can cause a problem taste and custom wise. On a personal level, I don't like the taste of the alcoholic variety.
Another method is infusion with glycerin and water.
Or make a paste.
I make my own vanilla. The large bottle of vodka and add 12-20 vanilla beans. I have saved the smaller vanilla bottles I have bought and use a small funnel to pour into the small bottle. Oh and to strain it, just put a piece of coffee filter in the tiny funnel. If any large pieces come out, I stuff them back in. This is far better tasting than the grocery store brands and the more beans you put in the stronger it will be, so you will have to adjust your recipes slightly - but I love vanilla so I never have, yet!
The shelf life on vanilla made in vodka or other 80% proof is indefinite. Vanilla beans only last less than a year fresh.