Vermont is good at growing a lot of things. Spices aren’t among them. When my friend Jessie came back from Madagascar with beautiful whole vanilla pods, I decided to do a few experiments. After some online research, I decided to start by making two vanilla extracts – one with rum, one with vodka. Extracts are infusions: you soak your item of choice in alcohol to give it flavor.
I started by finding two small glass bottles, a sharp knife, my vanilla pods, rum, and vodka. I chose 80 proof alcohols so that everything would be well preserved. I chose white rum (rather than spiced rum) so that I could really find out what spicy flavors my vanilla pods added.
Using a sharp knife, I slit the vanilla pod open from tip to tip. This would expose the flavorful inner flesh and seeds to the alcohol right away. I then put the pods in my glass bottles, filled one to the top with vodka, filled one to the top with rum, and labeled each one accordingly. And then I waited….
Nearly three months later, they smell and taste like vanilla and have a beautiful warm brown color! The alcohol flavor is still strong as well – that will cook off if you use these extracts in cooking or baking. The vodka will leave only vanilla flavor, the rum will lend a bit of it’s own flavor to the dish along with a vanilla-y one. Next time, I think I might try adding even more beans to see if I can get a really concentrated extract. I’ll also be interested to see how they both age through the winter. Thanks Jessie!