Vanilla Vinegar

Monday, April 18, 2005

vanilla vinegarVanilla has been on my mind the last week. My tax preparation nibbling was an excuse to eat butter and vanilla, combined in the tasty amalgamation of a cookie. My morning oatmeal can’t do without a splash of vanilla too. I heard a rumor that vanilla bean prices are expected to drop soon, and am planning more uses for them. To get my bean projects started I’ve got a vanilla vinegar brew steeping in my kitchen.

Browsing through the May 2005 Herb Companion yielded this idea. The vanilla bean reacted quickly to the vinegar, which is nice and toasty brown one week later. Though, I find myself asking, why steep vanilla in vinegar when one can simply add drops of vanilla extract to a recipe? The few things I remember from all my chemistry classes are some of the extraction labs we performed. Extracting caffiene, orange oil, and bright green chlorophyll was all performed with an alcohol tincture. Yet, anyone who has cooked with steeped vinegars knows that vinegar works well in extracting flavors. Does vinegar extract the same vanilla compounds as alcohol would? I don’t know… I think I might rent a chemist and find out.

A wonderful use for this vinegar is suggested in the May 2005 Herb Companion’s accompanying recipe for Vanilla Waldorf salad, currently available on their website.

vanilla vinegar

Vanilla Vinegar

Clean and sterilize one pint sized glass jar with a fitting lid.

Split open one vanilla bean length wise and then cut these lengths in half, resulting in four pieces. Place beans in the clean glass jar, and top with rice wine vinegar.

Leave to steep in a place away from light and heat, shaking the jar occasionally.

Enjoy with grilled fruit and in dressings and sauces.


posted April 19th, 2005 at 11:35 am

Wow! That sounds so cool. I guess that means I’m going to have to break down and buy some expensive vanilla beans. I can’t wait.


- Liz
posted April 20th, 2005 at 9:29 am

Hi Jocelyn, this is very interesting! What’s that taste like? I think rice wine vinegar has quite a kick though.

- keiko
posted April 20th, 2005 at 11:07 am

I haven’t used it in a recipe yet- letting it steep more. Though I just tested it on tortilla chips and its wonderful! I’m surprised how well the vanilla goes with the vinegar- it adds a warm woodsy-floral note to the back of my mouth. It’s soft- not very aggressive. You can kind of pick out that the flavor is vanilla, but I’m so not use to tasting vanilla without sweetness added.

I was thinking rice wine vinegar would have less of a punch than cider vinegar… are you thinking plain old white vinegar?

posted April 20th, 2005 at 12:05 pm

Actually the price has already dropped. Do let us know what other uses you come up with for the vinegar it sounds intriguing….I’m thinking maybe with chilled seafood?

- Amy
posted April 20th, 2005 at 4:38 pm

Ooo yeah… I’ve seen references to vanilla with lobster. Though I admit I don’t crack open the lobster tails that often around here. :)

posted April 24th, 2005 at 5:08 am

Try white wine vinegar, too. It will be a light taste like I imagine the rice wine vinegar would give. Great idea!

posted September 12th, 2005 at 4:25 pm

[...] This Mango Dressing is also a good use of vanilla vinegar. It’s excellent on the panfried mashed potato patties and spinach salad.[...]