Vanilla is a magickal and precious spice, valued for it’s heady scent, luscious flavor, and exotic rarity. Vanilla is associated with love and romance, but also with innocence.
The fruit of an orchid, vanilla beans must be individually hand-pollinated, which makes them so highly prized and expensive; All the more reason to get as much use out of each bean as possible!
For raw-food recipes I use only the seeds, or “caviar,” of the vanilla bean. These are obtained by slicing the pod lengthwise, prying it open, and then scraping out the soft seeds with the flat edge of the knife. This luxuriously frangrant ingredient is perfect for totally raw desserts, as it does not include non-raw ingredients, such as alcohol or glycerin, that are used to make extracts. But it would be a terrible waste to not use the remaining vanilla fruit!
Luckily it is extremely easy to make your own vanilla extract, which is indispensable for baking, and for sweet dishes of all sorts. The extract blends evenly into batters, creams, and icings.
All you need is a glass jar, some vanilla beans, and some (quality) vodka!
After slicing them open, simply place the vanilla pods in a glass jar, with enough vodka to cover them. You can fold or chop the beans as needed to submerge them. Store the jar in a cool, dark place, and continue to add scraped beans as you use them. Give the jar a good shake every day or so. It will take at least 2 weeks, but preferably 4 weeks or more, before your extract is good and strong. The more beans you add, and the longer it sits, the stronger the extract will get.
As you use the extract, you can add a bit more vodka to the mix, and keep the vanilla supply flowing!