At school, I was a terrible student when it came to the natural science subjects. I just could not see why we should cut a liver and get a reaction to it. Or to cut our fingers to test which blood type we were – when the hospitals could do that a whole lot more accurately, and under more sanitary conditions.
This puzzles my Dad, because I love to experiment, open gadgets, watch reactions and find out how things work. (Putting the gadgets back together again after opening them is less interesting.)
But, I think that if we had done experiments where I could see the use, I might have been more motivated. Such as homemade vanilla extract.
I’m trying this out because it seems to be a staple in a lot of recipes, yet, it is not available commercially in any food store I’ve been to in Norway. Artificial vanilla essence, yes, vanilla extract, no.
I bought vanilla beans, but then was faced with the alcohol problem. Curiously enough, we do have a lot of flavoured alcohol at home – tax free shopping – but very little without any additives at all. So that had to be acquired before I could start.
White wine vinegar, which is rather difficult to find in a regular Norwegian grocery store, ended up having the perfect bottle for the experiment.
I relied on the previous documented experiments of Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini and Elise of Simply Recipes. Both of whom have very detailed recipes, so I won’t repost that. I used a bit more liquid than they did, as my bottle was around 2 cups (4 dl) in size, and the vanilla beans looked so alone with a half full bottle.
The day after I put the vanilla beans into the alcohol, it had started changing colour. A week after, it was lightly brown.
Three months down the road, and the bottle is half full – I’ve used so much of it in baking and by making butterscotch fondue.