If you have been using the recipe books I’ve recommended, you will no doubt have needed to use vanilla extract in your baking. But most vanilla extract contains alcohol – which comes from grain. Aargh!
So, as usual, I have been on the hunt for an alcohol-free version and details of how to make your own. After several dead-ends, I was chatting to a chap at Ludlow market the other day (what was I doing there??!) and asked him. He recommended I look at a website www.vanillamart.co.uk and, voila, problem solved! Thank you to him.
They do a couple of options we could happily use:
“Our unique, extremely concentrated, industrial strength 10 Fold Extract is made using Glycerin (Palm/Rapeseed Origin) and Madagascan Vanilla Pods. This dark brown syrupy extract is ideal for professional and home use and combined with low dosing levels offers the ultimate vanilla extract experience. This product does not contain any alcohol.”
Cost is £6.50 for 50ml and £12.50 for 100ml. It is high strength so a little would no doubt go a long way.
Or how about pure vanilla powder? Just crushed vanilla pods if you can’t be bothered to scrape the seeds out of a pod. Costs from £7.50-£18.75 depending on size.
“Premium Grade Ground Vanilla Powder is made using select premium Madagascan bourbon vanilla pods and nothing else!
Select long, supple and moist pods are cured, pulverised into a fine powder and dried with no additives retaining the strong, intense characteristic aroma of bourbon vanilla and a rich dark colour. Ideal for use at home or by professionals, this product is suitable for all baking, patisserie and other culinary uses. A little portion goes a long way! Try using in your milkshake, smoothies or to spice up any preparation! This product serves as an alternative to vanilla extracts containing alcohol.”
It is pretty simple to make your own – as long as you have grain free alcohol, like a true potato vodka (I’m working on it!). There is a recipe on the site for homemade extract here. Of course, you can get vanilla pods there too, or locally. Simply scrape the seeds out, use in your cooking and pop the pod in with your caster sugar for next time to get instant vanilla flavour. Yum. I’m off to make some vanilla muffins!