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Homemade vanilla with cloudy floaty bits

sashadog's picture

At the bottom of the bottle of my homemade vanilla (beans with vodka), are these little bits of cloudy things floating about. It, of course, smells wonderful, but what would cause this and is it safe to use or should I toss it and start again??

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soupereasy's picture

(post #35710, reply #1 of 14)

Should you feel the need to toss it, toss it my way. Did you strain it or just put vanilla beans in a bottle of vodka?

sashadog's picture

(post #35710, reply #2 of 14)

I just added the beans to the vodka, but some of the beans I split and scraped the seeds out into the vodka to enhance the flavour. I just can't figure out what it is and why it's there!

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soupereasy's picture

(post #35710, reply #3 of 14)

does it look like mould? Used to work with bakers that did this all the time. They just popped a few vanilla beans in a bottle of vodka. It was always out on the counter.

sashadog's picture

(post #35710, reply #5 of 14)

It looks and has the consistency of bits of cloudy egg white swishing about at the bottom along with some of the seeds. Not so much like mould, though...

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Gretchen's picture

(post #35710, reply #7 of 14)

Sounds like mother of vanilla!  ;o)


I have never quite understood making vanilla with beans. I've tried, but certainly never with 20 beans as Knitpik mentioned. Even with 5 beans, just not worth it for quality (especially) or cost.


Gretchen
Gretchen
Lazio1954's picture

(post #35710, reply #8 of 14)

I use just the empty pods after I've scraped the beans out.. that way it's a by-product.

Silvana

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
Winston Churchill

Silvana We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill
TracyK's picture

(post #35710, reply #9 of 14)

That's because even with 30 beans, it'd still just be strongly infused vanilla vodka. It's not extract.


A top-quality commercially produced extract does way more than just soak beans in alcohol.


CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

Gretchen's picture

(post #35710, reply #10 of 14)

Thanks. That DOES make sense.  Your description is what it tastes like to me. And that isn't very good.

Gretchen

Gretchen
DJHinAZ's picture

(post #35710, reply #11 of 14)

I'm not sure this is any different, actually, than commercial vanilla extract. The difference is probably that you are using vodka rather than grain alcohol.

Found on http://www.vanilla.com/html/facts-extracts.html:
Vanilla extract is made by percolating or macerating chopped vanilla beans with ethyl alcohol and water. The process is usually kept as cool as possible to keep flavor loss to a minimum, though some manufacturers feel that there must be heat to create the best extraction. Most companies use a consistent blend of beans, sometimes from several regions, to create their signature flavor. The extraction process takes about 48 hours after which the extracts will mellow in the tanks with the beans from days to weeks, depending on the processor, before being filtered into a holding tank where the amber-colored liquid extract remains until being bottled.

[...]

The extract may also contain sugar, corn syrup, caramel, colors, or stabilizers. All additives must be on the label, but the FDA doesn't require that the percentage of additives be listed. As vanilla is naturally sweet, it isn't necessary to use additional sweeteners, though some companies use 25% or more sugar in their extracts and some use only a small percentage of sugar as a stabilizer. Adding 20% or more sugar to a newly made extract is like fortifying any alcoholic product. It takes the edge off the harshness of the un-aged product, which is, at least partially, why some companies continue to use a significant amount sugar in their flavorings. Extracts made with premium beans and little to no sugar offer a fresh clean flavor to cuisine. Though these extracts may be expensive, the flavor is cleaner and it carries well to the finished product. Vanilla ages during the time that it goes through the channels from factory to your shelf. Some companies hold the extracts in their manufacturing area for up to a year to make certain the extract is well aged before they ship it out.

Also, this webpage http://www.kitchenproject.com/vanilla/4FoldVanillaExtract.htm
seemed to have good suggestions for making vanilla extract.

Sorry, I couldn't find anything about cloudy stuff in the bottom, but if it's sitting in alcohol, I wouldn't expect mold to grow... assuming that the bottle was well sealed so that there was still a high alcohol content.

TracyK's picture

(post #35710, reply #12 of 14)

People much more knowledgable than me have gone on record as saying that homemade "vanilla extract" is simply not the same animal as commercial extract, and I agree with them.

CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

DJHinAZ's picture

(post #35710, reply #14 of 14)

No problem--not having tried homemade extract I can't really comment. But I just got curious about exactly how they DO make commercial extract and thought that webpage was interesting. I wonder if the main difference is that it seems in the commercial process they increase the contact of the bean to the alcohol by "percolating or masticating" the bean. Also, they age it quite awhile, which would take the edge off... I didn't want to argue about this, I just thought it was interesting. I don't really have much interest in making my own either--I'll make my own vanilla sugar, thanks, but not my own extract.

sashadog's picture

(post #35710, reply #13 of 14)

I think you might be right - It does look like a mother!

This batch is a few years old now...I wouldn't try making this again as it just doesn't measure up to the commercial products so readily available. I just don't want to waste it at this point!

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knitpik's picture

(post #35710, reply #4 of 14)

When I make this I don't split the beans. Just put them whole. The vanilla flavor will release gradually.
It takes several months but the results are worth it. I used about 20 beans for a bottle.

sashadog's picture

(post #35710, reply #6 of 14)

I know it isn't necessary, but I thought I'd give it a try...I only split one in the whole batch, so I can't see how this would have effected it terribly...This batch is a few years old at this point. I forgot about it as it was hidden in our crawlspace and rediscovered when we moved!


Edited 3/19/2008 4:24 pm ET by sashadog

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