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    Make Your Own Vanilla Extract


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    Make Your Own Vanilla Extract  Empty Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

    Post  mudra on Sat Jun 28, 2014 4:28 pm

    Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

    Make Your Own Vanilla Extract  Vanilla-extract-4

    Vanilla may be one of the most popular dessert flavors. From straight up vanilla ice cream to baked goods made with vanilla extract, most of us have been tasting vanilla all our lives.

    Vanilla is one of the most expensive spices on the market. Buying the pure extract is costly, and if you are not careful about the quality of the extract you are buying you could be consuming petrochemicals and byproducts from the wood industry.


    Did you know that vanilla beans come from an orchid?

    Did you know every vanilla bean is hand pollinated?

    Vanilla is an interesting plant and it has a rich history.

    There are over 100 species of vanilla orchids in the world, but only three main species are cultivated for vanilla production. Most of our vanilla comes from Vanilla planifolia. The spanish word, vaina or vainilla means ‘little sheath’.

    This vine orchid is native to Mexico where it’s been used medicinally for hundreds if not thousands of years. As far as we know, the Totonaco were the first peoples to harvest vanilla. After the Aztecs conquered the Totonaco they became connoisseurs of this exotic fruit.

    In 1528, Montezuma introduced Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes to the “Drink of the Gods”. Cortes returned to Spain bringing Xocolatl or cocoa and vanilla with him. For hundreds of years vanilla was a highly sought-after spice in Europe, only affordable by royalty.

    After the Europeans discovered vanilla they tried desperately to grow it themselves but for over three hundreds years they were unsuccessful. Then, in 1836, botanist Charles Francois Antoine Morren noticed that, after bees pollinated the vanilla orchid, the fruit would appear several days later. He began to experiment with hand pollinating the flowers himself and thus vanilla started to be cultivated outside of Mexico.

    Today vanilla is still hand pollinated using a technique developed in 1841 by Edmond Albius, a 12 year old slave who lived on the island of Reunion.

    Vanilla is so incredibly expensive because of the enormous amount of time and care that goes into every bean pod.

    Each orchid flower produces one vanilla bean pod after it’s been hand pollinated. The orchid flowers only bloom for one day so the timing is everything!

    Once a flower has been pollinated the bean pod will take around 10 months to mature. It has to be harvested at the right time to ensure the highest quality. After the vanilla bean pod is harvested it goes through an extensive curing process.

    Not many herbalists use vanilla medicinally today, probably due to the high cost of the beans. Historically, vanilla has been used as an aphrodisiac, for stomach pain, coughs, as both a stimulating and relaxing nervine, and even for venomous bites.

    Herbalist Kiva Rose tells me she often includes vanilla tincture in nervine tonic formulas along with oat straw and evening primrose.

    Making your own vanilla extract is easy, cost efficient and makes a great gift.

    To make your own vanilla extract you will need….

    At least 12 vanilla beans, possibly more if giving as a gift
    Click here for whole, organic vanilla beans…

    2 cups of vodka

    pint jar

    Begin by cutting the vanilla beans in half and then scraping out the innards. After the pods are scraped I like to cut them in half so that they stay submerged in the vodka.

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