Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vanilla extract

As you probably already know, only vanilla extracts without sugars and colors added are SCD legal.

This may surprise you. I know it surprised me. But most commercial vanilla extracts are full of all kinds of junk these days -- caramel color and sugar are two of the more popular offenders.

I recently found a bottle of legal vanilla extract at Smart and Final, but it only lists "alcohol" on it. Now I personally have to write and find out if the alcohol they used is distilled -- and thus, gluten free. My son and I remain gluten free due to demonstrated sensitivity to gluten, you see.

Anyway! I started thinking. I thought, Self, why do you do this to yourself? Why don't you try to make my own?

I haven't yet. But when I do, I'm going to use this web site.

From that site, I learned that most of the people on the Internet are making vanilla incorrectly, which is why some sites say that making it on your own just doesn't work all that well.

Some takeaway points, if you are going to attempt this:

--use a dark brown, blue, or green bottle or other airtight container
--remember that only LIGHT rum is SCD legal, if you decide to use rum
--Vodka is the most neutral tasting alcohol
--shoot for 80 proof (40 percent alcohol)
--try to get "grade B" vanilla beans, which create a better and stronger extract
--use at MINIMUM 8 beans per 8 ounces of alcohol. Commercial vanilla producers have ways to bang all the good stuff out of the beans -- we're just cutting them lengthwise. So we have to use more.
--don't be afraid to use more beans! There are plenty of "double strength" brands of vanilla out there. Go for it.

By the way, I have taste tested my pickles and they are DIVINE. I am going to be posting photos and a recipe soon, so stay tuned! :D


Caitlin said...

You know...I might make my own mayo, and possibly I'll get a yogurt machine...but vanilla? I use a well-known brand name-it says alcohol, but it also says gluten free on the outside box.
(But I bet you'll have fun making it yourself!)

Unknown said...

Hi Caitlin,

What brand do you use?

I like to use vanilla a lot, but at $14 for four ounces -- yikes! I look to cut corners wherever I can.

My only problem is with the vodka part. I have no idea what a good quality vodka would be! :)


Anonymous said...

There are actually Vanilla Extracts available that are gluten free, and sugar free. And you're right, there is a lot of additives being added to vanilla these days, because the FDA's regulations are lax. As a matter of fact, up to 40% fructose can be added to sweeten the extract.
I prefer to use singing dog vanilla myself. They are organic, gluten free, sugar free and fair trade.
Check it out here:

Anonymous said...

My son is now gluten intolerant so as a chef/instructor I am adapting my from scratch baking to gf. My son is able to drink 'Polish Luksowowa sp.?' potato vodka (many vodkas are grain based)so I'll be using that to make vanilla and lemon extract. Niessen Massey extracts say they are gluten free, I have their vanilla bean paste - but expensive.

Anonymous said...

I've had great success with making vanilla. It's rum and vanilla beans. I only used 2 beans in 4oz of rum, but I do more than split mine: I split them up, cut them into inch-long pieces, scrape out the innards, and bash the beans around with the back of a knife.

Every now and then I tip in more rum and stick in another vanilla bean. At some point the bottle will get full of used up vanilla beans and I'll have to take the old beans out and start over.