I recently came into possession of a very nice bottle of Angostura 7 year old rum. Now, I don’t drink at home, only when out and about, so I started thinking about other ways I could start to use this unexpected windfall.
Naturally, cooking came to mind.
One of the only times I mix alcohol and baking is at Christmas time, and when I use extracts. It seems like you can’t find a “traditional” Christmas recipe without a cheeky half-cup of something-something thrown in. Fruit mince tarts, Christmas cake, pudding, egg-nog(!!); all spring quickly to mind.
Therefore, it’s only natural that this rum be used for something Christmassy.
Before you get all huffy, I know Christmas is a good month and a half away, and that most people haven’t even started thinking about it. I’m just weird like that – I love me the Christmas. And we’re making vanilla extract. Needs time to infuse, yo. (Ha…yo-ho-ho! Rum! Arrr!) Otherwise it’s just going to taste like rum.
– 3 medium-large vanilla beans
– 250ml good quality rum (I used Angostura 7-year)
– sterilised jar
Make sure the vanilla beans are fresh, and not dry, and are slightly flexible. Dry equals old, and while it will still work, your extract will not be as potent. If you’re going to the trouble of purchasing vanilla beans, make sure you get good quality ones!
If you don’t have rum, do not substitute vodka. Not too bad, if you’re using it in small amounts, but still, not as tasty. Use vodka when making lemon extract, or limoncello. And of course any flavour of vodka is fun to attempt when you’ll be drinking it. Skittles flavours spring to mind immediately.
If you must substitute your spirit, try Galliano, I hear that works quite well. Kind of cheating, though.
The jar needs to be sterilised. This means boiling it for 5-10 minutes. Important so whatever is inside the jar doesn’t go off, or mouldy. Generally 80 proof alcohol (such as my 40% Angostura) means that bacteria, etc, can’t survive, but just to be safe sterilise your jar. You’ll be keeping the extract for a while, after all!
While the jar is sterilizing, slice the vanilla beans in half using a sharp-pointed knife. Flatten the bean slightly with the flat part of your blade, to open it up.
Place the opened vanilla beans into your sterilised jar. Measure 250ml of rum, and pour into the jar and seal tightly. Label the jar with the date of production (and what it is, for stickybeak housemates who may want to open it). Shake well.
Place in a dark cupboard to infuse. Shake once or twice a week. If you don’t have a cupboard that is kept closed most of the time, wrap the jar in a tea-towel and place in a cupboard. Don’t forget to shake it often!
Allow the extract to infuse for at least one month. The longer it infuses, the more vanilla-ey (yes that’s a word on this blog) it gets.
It has a much more potent flavour than the lack-lustre essence you get at the supermarket, and will really make things stand out once you start using it.
And, just because some of my rum is gone… (One last pirate reference)