This post is by Bernie Carr,
A few weeks ago, I wanted to make cookies and muffins so I bought a bottle of vanilla at the grocery store. I was shocked that a one-ounce bottle costed close to $5! I ended up buying one since I needed it right away but it has already run out.
Why is vanilla so expensive?
Several factors have contributed to the increased vanilla prices. For one thing, there are only a few areas that grow vanilla such as Mexico, Tahiti, Hawaii, Indonesia and Madagascar. The largest growers are in Madagascar which had a huge cyclone a few years ago, causing a vanilla shortage. The vanilla orchid, which is the source of vanilla pods or beans is a slow growing plant. It takes two to four years for the plant to fully develop, and the flowers only bloom for one day of the year. There is also a huge demand for real vanilla from large corporations that use it to flavor cereals, baked goods.
So now that we know why it’s expensive, we need to come up with a way to save some money.
Let’s make our own vanilla
This is an ideal project for an apartment dweller: it requires no special equipment and does not take up a lot of room. And, it will save money in the long run.
Vanilla beans – I bought vanilla beans that were grown in Hawaii that were available at the time.
Vodka – choose a decent brand; not the most expensive, but not the cheap stuff either.
- With a sharp knife, slice the vanilla bean across the middle. The vanilla bean was surprisingly tough.
- The ratio is two vanilla beans to one cup of vodka. Because this is my first attempt, I started with one cup of vodka. Place vanilla beans in a clean glass jar, then pour the vodka.
- Leave the jar in a cool dark place. I left it in an unused corner of the cupboard.
- Shake the jar occasionally. It should be ready in about eight weeks, or longer if you want a stronger flavor. After the eight weeks is up, strain the vanilla and transfer to a pourable container. You can add more vodka and another vanilla bean to start a new batch.
Here is a photo of my vanilla jar on day 1:
Real vanilla beans smell very fragrant, almost like perfume. After just a couple of days, the mixture was already turning a dark shade.
Here is a photo on day 30.
So far the mixture is starting to get more fragrant but 30 days is not enough. I will give it another two months before I start using this batch. If you start now, you can make vanilla in time for Christmas – you can use it for Christmas baking and give as gifts.
© Apartment Prepper 2019
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