Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vanilla Extract

Some years ago we went vacationing to Hampi. Its one of those long lost cities, where ancient kingdoms(Vijayanagar Empire) flourished. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is truly stupefying.

And after our grand tour of the lost city, we settled to eat lunch at this quaint place called the Mango Tree Restaurant. Yes, you have to see it to believe it.

While walking through a dense banana plantation one begins to doubt if there really is a place to find a hot meal or was that an urban legend. Once the thicket clears up you see a mundane entrance to a place that doesn't look too appealing. Appearances believe me, are very deceiving.
Gobbling up a handsome meal while lounging on stone benches perched on the cliff of a small hillock overlooking the Tungabhadra river. A place to relax and see the world go by. Swing away into the river like a 4 year old. Spend sleepy afternoons reading books under the canopy of the mango tree. Watch people enjoy coracle rides in the river. Breathe in the fresh air and clear all the city smoke filled lungs. It is a hidden gem. An experience you cannot miss. Magnificent is an understatement.
It was here I bought a packet of a couple of vanilla beans grown locally.

Now that the story of the source is over, lets get onto the extract.

Vodka - 150ml, 70 proof , vanilla flavored is a plus
Vanilla beans - 2 pods

Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Scrape the beans. Also chop the remaining beans into small pieces. Add this to 150ml of Vodka (we got a 180ml Vodka bottle, and ended up using 30ml for macerated strawberries with vanilla ice cream!). Shake well and leave in a cool and dark place for 2 months.

We have a beautiful homemade vanilla extract that we use in all our baking! I plan to follow the same procedure to make lime and orange extract soon. Stay tuned for those updates!

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