We are in the middle of our extract making the journey and it is an exciting one. You probably have never thought about your vanilla extract before. We think about it every day. Making small batches of vanilla extract is a fascinating process. Vanilla extract is made by using alcohol to extract the vanilla flavor out of the beans. Most people don’t know that vanilla extract contains alcohol and according to federal regulation, it has to contain at least 35 percent alcohol to be considered vanilla extract.
Vanilla Bean Quality
Like all good food, it starts with the quality of the ingredients you start with. Especially since vanilla is only vanilla beans, alcohol and water. The vanilla beans have to be the best quality. We then start the extraction process. We measure the beans and inspect them then we chop the beans. This is my favorite part. I think about the vanilla beans and that it is a fruit of an orchid. I think about all the people who helped get the beans to me and wish them well and of the long journey that the vanilla beans have already made. Some of the beans have markings or initials on them. They scratch markings into them when they are green pods on the vine -kind of like vanilla bean tattoos. The farmers mark their beans because of their high value in case they are lost or stolen. As you can imagine, it smells amazing when we make vanilla extract. I love their rich beautiful color and looking at the millions of little seeds when I chop them.
Heat versus cold extraction.
Many large vanilla processing companies use heat to speed up the extraction process. However, there is a concern if you introduce heat it destroys some of the 300 flavor properties of natural vanilla. That’s why we use a vintage recipe based on a cold extraction method.
There is a fair amount of science involved in making the extract, but there is a certain amount of art, similar to making wine that makes making delicious vanilla extract a process that is part science and part art that creates a lovely and welcome addition to almost everything you bake.
Aging the Extract
Like winemaking, vanilla extract improves with age. After filtering, we allow our extract to settle a little bit. Storing the vanilla extract before bottling allows the flavors to mellow and balance out. We carefully make small batches of our vanilla extract to maintain our high product quality and standards.
Enjoying Your Vanilla Extract.
We hope you enjoy your vanilla extract. Did you know that while you add vanilla extract to the dough for cookies and cakes, you add vanilla extract after cooking puddings and sauces to help maintain its intensity in flavor? We think no matter how you use it, you will love our vanilla extract.