A Vanilla Extract Mother Jar?
Seasoned vanilla extract makers have perfected the art of getting every ounce of sweetness (and value) out of their vanilla beans. Some of their tricks include adding sugar to the bag the beans shipped in to absorb the vanilla bean oil in vanilla sugar. They use the vanilla beans for a second round of homemade extracts. They dry the vanilla beans after the first round of extract, blend them and use them in vanilla sugar. They harvest the caviar to make vanilla bean paste. And above all things, a great vanilla extract maker utilizes....the MOTHER JAR.
OK, so what is a mother jar? In simple terms, it's a catch-all repository of all of your vanilla "left overs". It's usually a 1/4 gallon - 1 gallon glass jar with a sealed top that is near the kitchen but away from sunlight. What's inside of it? Well, I think it's safe to say that no two mother jars are the same...
First of all, any time you have old vanilla beans of any variety (Madagascar, Tahitian, Ugandan...anything) you simply toss them in the mother jar. Then, as with regular at-home extract making, you simply add the type of alcohol that you prefer. Maybe it's vodka, or rum or a nice bourbon...or all three. (We don't recommend mixing alcohol, but we have heard from many of our extract makers that love their mixed alcohol mother jar.)
The result is a Mother Jar blend of extract that is totally original and entirely yours. Some of the very best extracts have come from "mother jars". You will discover blends that are entirely new to the world, invented by you in your own kitchen.
Here are a few mother jar tips:
- Keep track of what you toss in your mother jar, so when it turns out great you will know how to duplicate it. (Or, if it turns out bad you'll know how to avoid doing it again!)
- While we don't recommend mixing spirits in high volume, it is certainly OK to toss vanilla beans in that were used in extracts with different spirits. You might have a Madagascar bean that was in rum and a Tahitian bean that was in vodka. It's OK to mix those. We just recommend using a single type of spirit to fill the jar.
- Let your mother jar rest for at least six months, but once you start using it, you can toss in more beans as you have them or top off your spirit without disrupting the overall taste. So you can simultaneously use and refill your mother jar.
- Think about how you will get your extract out of the the mother jar when you're ready. Since it's a big jar, you can't just pour it out on a teaspoon. You will need a small kitchen jar to fill for everyday use.
Most importantly, we'd love to hear about your creative blends! Share them with us so we can share them with our global VanillaPura family!