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      What is a Vanilla Extract Mother Jar?
      Here's a quick video that explains what a Mother Jar is, and more detailed information can be found below. This video clip is a short exerpt of one of our 1-hour Facebook Live extract making parties in our Facebook group.
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      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 dry the beans and make vanilla powder. They harvest the caviar to make vanilla bean paste. And above all things, a great vanilla extract maker utilizes....the Mother Jar.
      VanillaPura Mother Jar
      OK, so what is a mother jar? In simple terms, it's the extract that you begin to make after your first extract is finished. It's a catch-all repository of all of your vanilla "left overs". It's usually a 1 liter - 5 liter glass jar with a sealed top that is near the kitchen but away from sunlight. What's inside of it? Well, we think it's safe to say that no two mother jars are the same...
      What do you do with the vanilla beans in your regular bottle of extract when the alcohol drops below the vanilla beans? You simply toss them in the mother jar. When you make extract and have a leftover bean or two, you toss them in the mother jar. When you make vanilla bean paste and have leftover empty pods, you put them in the mother jar as well. 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.) 
      Vanilla extract 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 more mother jar tips:
      1. Mother jar extracts are more art than science. Most people are usually adding used beans and then enough alcohol to cover the beans. So typically you are adding more than 1oz of beans to every 8oz of alcohol. However, they are used beans so how do you know when the extract is ready? The answer is to regularly taste test your mother jar extract. It's ready when you think it tastes great. If it's still too boozy, then wait longer and taste test again in a month or two. Some people add a few new beans to the jar to help sweeten it further. 
      2. 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!) 
      3. 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. 
      4. Let your new mother jar rest for at least one year, 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. Just continue to taste test to make sure you like the taste before use. If you don't like the taste, then let it rest for another month or two and then taste test again. 
      5. 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. 
      6. Beans have extract value for a very long time. We have seen mother jars with the original beans that are 10+ years old. We have heard of people keeping vanilla beans in their mother jars for as long as 25 years. 
      7. It's good practice to clean out your mother jar once or twice a year by pouring your extract through a strainer or a coffee filter, but not necessary. The alcohol will ensure food safety and freshness. 
      8. Buy a mother jar bigger than what you need. Just because you have a big jar, it doesn't mean you need to fill it 100% of the way to the top. The alcohol just needs to cover the beans. As you add more beans over time, add more alcohol. You will be surprised how fast it grows. 
      9. Instead of 1 huge mother jar, you may want 4-5 medium sized mother jars to have 4-5 different experiments taking place. Perhaps one with vodka, another with bourbon or one with rum. Maybe one with all V. tahitensis vanilla beans and another with all V. planifolia vanilla beans. 
      10. Have fun! You may want to drop in a cinnamon stick for a month, or cocoa nibs and coffee beans for a month to add a mocha flavor. The mother jar is more art than science. It becomes a reflection of your own unique tastes. Make it yours and have fun. 

      Click the image below to watch our interview with Daytime Tampa.

      Daytime Tampa with VanillaPura

      Here are a few Mother Jar posts from our VanillaPura Pros in our private Facebook group so you can see real mother jars in action:

      Mother Jar 1


      Mother Jar 2


      Mother Jar 3


      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!

      Visit our comprehensive extract-making guide center for more essential extract making tips and ongoing education.