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      A Vanilla Extract Mother Jar?
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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 harvest the caviar to make vanilla bean paste. And above all things, a great vanilla extract maker utilizes....the Mother Jar.
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      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 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...
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      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 past 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.) 
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      Mother Jar
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      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. 
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      Here are a few more mother jar tips:
      1. 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!) 
      2. 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. 
      3. 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. 
      4. 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. 
      5. Beans have extract value for a very long time. We have seen mother jars with the original beans that are 10+ years old. 
      6. 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. 
      7. 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. 
      8. Instead of 1 huge mother jar, you may want 4-5 medium sized mother jars to have 4-5 different experiments taking place. 
      9. 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. 

       

      Here is a video tutorial on making your own mother jar:

       

      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

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      Mother Jar 2

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      Mother Jar 3

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