- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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:
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!
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