The essence is made by letting vodka infuse over a long period of time, until it colors beaufilly dark. The vanilla perfumes the alcohol as if it were a blank canvas. After around six weeks, the extract is ready and rich in smell and flavor. I even noticed a little oily layer on top, which I think is because the beans were so fresh.
Now, a year later, I still have two big pots full of beans, and I have been surprised to notice that it is possible to reuse the beans to make a second batch of essence.
I can imagine however, that this would be the maximum and that the beans are not strong enough afterwards to repeat that trick. I would then grind the beans together in my kitchen machine with a little sugar syrup to use per spoonful (some trick from Raymond Blanc shown in his amazing BBC series).
- 20 vanilla beans
- 500 milliliters of vodka
- a large jar
Simply place the beans into the jar and pour the vodka over it. Leave in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks.In case you would like to give this away as holiday gifts, I would advise to go for small bottles with a little screw or cork top (to make sure it won’t leak). The same principle works with a smaller amount of vanilla beans, just make sure there is enough to infuse the essence.