I love vanilla – the flavor, aroma, the aura it gives cakes, cookies, and even coffee. Vanilla is not cheap, though. It’s the second most expensive spice after saffron.
Of course there is vanillin – the synthetic extract found in most processed foods with “natural flavors” or something of the kind. These flavors, along with artificial strawberry flavors, come from the castor sacs of beavers, which is something most people don’t want to ingest, or wouldn’t if they knew.
Real vanilla contains vanilloids, which act like capsaicin, reducing pain and inflammation in the body, just like many hot pepper cultivars. It also has antimicrobial activity. So using is not only tasty and pleasant, but healthful too.
The best way to get real vanilla is to buy the beans yourself. The beans come in pods from vine like plants. If you have a local grower or have the plant, that’s great. If you’re like me, and buy the pods dried, the best way to make them last is to make vanilla extract.
Basically you put vanilla pods in vodka. My baseline (completely not scientific) is adding a minimum of 4 pods per 500 ml, putting in a cool dark place for at least 3 months, and them having an endless supply of vanilla extract. Adding more pods will intensify the flavor, as will a longer wait period.
This makes for a great gift, the whole bottle (if you’re feeling rather generous) or dividing it up into smaller bottles.
1 bottle of 500 ml vodka ( I choose Polish potato vodka because it’s gluten free and I’m Polish)
4 or more vanilla pods
Just stick them in there and wait for the vanilla to overtake the ethanol. Glorious.
Cheers and good health!