Gail has introduced me to many things baking and cooking related, one of which is fresh vanilla pods. This may sound strange, but I had only ever used vanilla extract purchased from the supermarket and only ever seen those shrivelled up stick looking things on the supermarket shelf that are labeled vanilla pods. Not very appealing and very expensive! Anyway, Gail purchases bulk vanilla beans and sent me some a while back. Wow, they are such a wonderful thing, the smell is divine. I first used them to flavour custard and glace icing.
Another topic on the Taste forum was homemade vanilla extract. Such an easy thing to do and so much better than anything you purchase at the supermarket.
All you need is a bottle of vodka and fresh vanilla pods.I used a 750ml bottle of vodka (brand doesn't matter) and about 8 - 10 pods. Split the pods and drop into the vodka.
(This is my first bottle at about 1 1/2 months old.)
Place it in a dark place, the top shelf of the pantry is a good place, and leave for at least 3 months to mature. The bottle needs a shake every now and then. It turns a lovely dark brown colour and the smell is amazing. I use it all the time in my baking now and would never go back to store bought vanilla again. I have a couple of bottles on the go now and the bottles can be topped up several times.
I have bottled it up in smaller bottles and given it as gifts as well.
If you can get hold of some juicy, plump vanilla beans give this a go, it is definately worth it!
Mrs KT :)