It would be completely fair to call me puritanical when it comes to vanilla. Vanilla "essence" makes me a little bit angry. It's like maple "flavoured" syrup. Why, I beg you, why?
If you're like me and you flinch at the $10 for the bottle of the real stuff of either one, we could try planting maple trees in our Australian backyards, or really, just buy maple syrup occasionally (and make sure you get your turn before Matilda Daisy does, who'll drown a pancake in it.)
And how about we make our own vanilla extract.
Turns out there's nothing to it.
* About 6 good quality vanilla beans, I bought mine online from here.
* About a cup of vodka, or enough to fill your bottle.
Just split the beans almost to the end, put them in the bottle and fill with vodka. Shake well, every day if you can remember to, for about two months.
The one on the left, above, is the one I just made. The other one has been brewing for about three weeks.
I made a few of these to give away at Christmas.
Queen Vanilla Extract which is the commercial one I usually use, has invert sugar and glucose in it, which makes it a lot sweeter and stickier than the homemade.
I made one at Christmas time with glucose and honey in it (to mimic the invert sugar) and I'll have to report back on whether it's better with those additives in a month or so.
Does it sound like an unneccessary faff?
I tell you, I just sleep better at night knowing I made it myself. It's become a personality disorder. It started with butter and yoghurt and I'm gearing up for chocolate and properly crisp rice crackers.
You gotta have a dream.