Using a sous vide is a great way to make vanilla extract in less than half the time usually required. It's a simple process that takes months off of the wait. This recipe was provided by one of our amazing vanilla extract pros.
Mr. Gingrich has been part of the VanillaPura family since the inception of our private, extract making Facebook group. If you're a member of our group, you will recognize his name as someone always willing to provide advice and help a new extract maker feel welcomed.
We are pleased to share his recipe with you in his own words:
Bourbon Vanilla bean extract recipe, my way
VanillaPura Madagascar vanilla beans Grade “A”, One Ounce
Makers Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, Eight Ounces
“Sous Vide” for those unfamiliar with this method, it is a way to cook or, in this case, warm a water bath to a preset, constant temperature. Whatever you wish to cook or warm is either sealed in a vacuum bag or jar and submerged for a set period of time.
Here is the setup:
Sous vide unit takes water in through the base and expels it through the slot seen in the side. The heater is Inside the body of the unit. This creates a low flow continuous circulation of water heated to the desired temperature. It is not unusual for a sous vide cycle to run for hours, days, even weeks. Other than monitoring water loss to evaporation, it requires no maintenance.
So why sous vide? Why not set it up and stick it in a cabinet or closet for 18 months to two years or more? Short answer, I’m getting old and impatient. As you’ll see below, I am not running at a high enough temperature to cause evaporation or concern about bad things happening due to heating alcohol to a unsafe temperature. And yes I researched this before diving in!
Eight ounce mason jar, as you can see, short jar, so I had to tie my beans in a knot to ensure that they stay submerged in the bourbon. One bean was split, the rest were left whole. (I wish to reuse the other beans in ice cream, baking etc.). The lids were tightened, finger tight, and left upside down for an hour to ensure no leaks. The Sous Vide unit was started and set for 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The cycle was a total of 96 hours, adding water as needed to keep level above jars.
After 96 hours of Sous Vide, the color extraction is extraordinary for four days.
Last tasted, around January 14th. Vodka base is wonderfully fragrant with no strong alcohol in the background. When tasted (a few drops in a tablespoon of whole milk) it was at a place where I would use it for baking now.
The Bourbon base has a rich vanilla aroma with a bourbon sweetness in the background. When tasted (as above) the vanilla was forward in the profile, but the bourbon still carried an alcohol bite at the finish.
My research, (and Input from some folks here) indicate that it may still take another three months for it to truly be ready. That is still a far cry from 18 months to two years.
Why make a Bourbon Vanilla extract? My uses will include Bourbon Vanilla Ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, for starters.
Sous Vide unit, bourbon extract, and representative bottle of bourbon used.
We used a sous vide in one of our extract making parties. Here's a tutorial and a review of how our extract turned out: