Vanilla has been on my mind the last week. My tax preparation nibbling was an excuse to eat butter and vanilla, combined in the tasty amalgamation of a cookie. My morning oatmeal can’t do without a splash of vanilla too. I heard a rumor that vanilla bean prices are expected to drop soon, and am planning more uses for them. To get my bean projects started I’ve got a vanilla vinegar brew steeping in my kitchen.
Browsing through the May 2005 Herb Companion yielded this idea. The vanilla bean reacted quickly to the vinegar, which is nice and toasty brown one week later. Though, I find myself asking, why steep vanilla in vinegar when one can simply add drops of vanilla extract to a recipe? The few things I remember from all my chemistry classes are some of the extraction labs we performed. Extracting caffiene, orange oil, and bright green chlorophyll was all performed with an alcohol tincture. Yet, anyone who has cooked with steeped vinegars knows that vinegar works well in extracting flavors. Does vinegar extract the same vanilla compounds as alcohol would? I don’t know… I think I might rent a chemist and find out.
Clean and sterilize one pint sized glass jar with a fitting lid.
Split open one vanilla bean length wise and then cut these lengths in half, resulting in four pieces. Place beans in the clean glass jar, and top with rice wine vinegar.
Leave to steep in a place away from light and heat, shaking the jar occasionally.
Enjoy with grilled fruit and in dressings and sauces.