Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Homemade Extracts and Salad Vinegars

I lucked out on a bag of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans on Amazon, 1/2 pound for about $25 including shipping. There were over 60 bean pods in the bag, which I split with a friend. That's a great price, considering vanilla beans in the grocery stores run around $10 for 3 pods. Even the natural food stores where I buy bulk herbs want $2 per bean pod.

The first order of business was to start some homemade vanilla extract. I used 6 bean pods, split open, cut in half, and put into a pint bottle of vodka. The recipe called for just 3 beans but I wanted a stout double-vanilla. The vodka already smells like vanilla after just a few days, but I will continue to let it steep in a dark closet for 3 months before using. The remaining beans are in double zip-lock bags in the refrigerator. A few will be placed in granulated cane sugar to make vanilla sugar for dessert toppings. (But not much, as I don't eat much sugar if I can avoid it.)

Being on a roll, I also started some orange extract. I zested 2 navel oranges and covered the zest with 2/3 cup of vodka. I should make more since I use a lot of orange flavoring, but that was all the oranges I had on hand.

The chives circling one of my guilds are in full bloom, so I started some chive blossom vinegar. No measurements... I simply filled a pint canning jar with blossoms (stems cut flush to the flowers) and poured hot champagne vinegar over them. (Be sure to soak the blossoms in water for a few minutes to dislodge any tiny critters.) They will steep a couple of weeks and then I'll strain out the blossoms. Small jars of this vinegar are a lovely deep pink and make nice gifts!

I have more herbal salad vinegars in mind to make as soon as I can afford more champagne vinegar in gallon jugs.


  1. That was a good deal. And home made vanilla is far superior to store bought.

    I was wondering last night, as I lay awake listening to an hours long thunderstorm, just what I could do with all the chive blossoms. Does it have to be champagne vinegar? I have some rice, apple cider, and non-organic white I use for cleaning.

    1. Pam, I use champagne vinegar because it is slighhtly milder, at least to my taste buds. ACV might overpower the chive blossoms, but think rice vinegar would be just fine.

  2. Got a jar of chive blossoms and rice vinegar started yesterday and dehydrated 1/3 of a jar of chives for winter use while I was at it. So we will see how rice vinegar works....

    1. Good for you! The more I think about using rice vinegar (which is more widely available than champagne vinegar), the more I think you couldn't tell the difference in the finished product.


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