I haven’t looked back since I started making my own vanilla extract.
The extract is pure, strong, and I enjoy the $$$ savings too.
Home extraction leaves one with a rather large supply of “spent” vanilla beans, and these were never going to be composted, or thrown to the chooks. The solution? Vanilla paste. It’s easy to make, tastes divine, and ensures the most efficient use of your precious vanilla: no waste, no fuss, much satisfaction.
Vanilla paste offers a concentrated form of vanilla in a semi-liquid, spoonable form.
Using beans left over from extraction, the vanillan concentration of your beans is considerably depleted, however, because you are going to utilise the entire bean, and not just the inside seeds, flavour is maximised, and I would estimate that 1teaspoon of your homemade vanilla paste will offer you the equivalent of the seeds from one vanilla pod.
Your homemade vanilla paste will tint your baking a light parchment colour, so please be aware of this when making , for example, white sponges’, or delicate pale custards and mousses.
Because our homemade vanilla paste contains the seed pod, as well as the seeds, the texture of the paste may be slightly coarser than the commercial brand of paste you are used to. I am not sure, but I imagine the commercial producers do also utilise the pod, but their production methods probably result in a more refined-in-texture product.
Having said that, the little food processor I used is a budget priced one, powerful enough, but nothing fabulous. If you are fortunate enough to be using one of the more powerful models of bullet-style blenders or processors, then I imagine you will achieve a perfectly lovely end result.
The texture of mine is fine for me, the little pod pieces really do not detract at all when I’ve used the paste in baking or smoothies.
To make your own vanilla paste, you will need:
Vanilla beans left over after making vanilla extract.
Karo Light Corn Syrup – NOT to be confused with high fructose corn syrup.
Small, sterilized jar to store the finished paste in.
Small food processor or blender.
The corn syrup adds the required liquid, and offers the viscosity required for suspension of the vanilla particles. The flavour is neutral, and it will not crystallise. You could use honey, but it will add flavour, and does not seem to offer as effective a blending medium as corn syrup does.
Here’s what you do:
Chop your spent vanilla beans using a knife or scissors. I chopped mine into pieces around 1/2cm. I snipped with scissors, directly into the processor bowl.
Start processing, adding 1tbsp at a time corn syrup. You want a spoonable paste that is slacker than jam, but a little thicker than honey.
The beans take up quite a bit of corn syrup. I estimate that, for my 20 beans, I ended up using around 180ml/ 3/4 cup of syrup.
Spoon into small sterilised jars and seal tightly.
I 3/4 filled 3 of the small jars in the first photo.
These do make thoughtful, much appreciated gifts for your baking friends.
’till next time