Have anyone who knows me missed that i love vanilla? I use it all the time and i even grow 4 varietes of vanilla orchids but not to try to get any beans of course, i just find those climbing plants lovely and exotic also without flowers.
Vanilla is apart from a flavour and aroma booster both a beautiful and fun garnish, i mean really.. just look at this. I have more than once received the question how to make a good vanilla syrup, and so i decided to write about it, its really simple. First – there are different vanillas and they taste differently. The most common is the bourbon or Madagascar vanilla.It’s a nice vanilla – with that lingering warm – inviting and exotic flavor typical for the vanilla bean after its cured.
The Tahitian vanilla bean is a different variety and is highly prized among chefs for its unique lovely floral character, probably developed over many years in the rich volcanic soil in the Tahitian islands. Its believed that the Tahitian vanilla – vanilla tahitensis has evolved from the original vanilla planifolia and developed into its own species with its own flavor and character. The beans are fatter, shorter, more plump and oily than other vanilla varietes and the fragrance and flavor is really special. This is the vanilla of choice also for me. Its usually not cheap, not if grown on Tahaa also known as the vanilla island in French Polynesia.
But the species vanilla tahitensis as its called is also grown on Papua New Guinea and those grown there are less costly but they are also very flavorful with the typical character of the Tahitian vanilla bean. Still these cannot exactly compare to those from Tahaa even though very good. The difference isn´t that big though but its the soil creating a slight difference and nuance in aroma and its also about the feel. It was a while ago that I had beans straight from French Polynesia, after that I`ve had those from Papua but these are certainly not bad at all. So when i make my vanilla syrups i use the Tahitian vanilla bean almost all the time, but why not mix the two sometimes? Or even adding a third, the Mexican bean? Which is also regarded in flavor to be close to the bourbon vanilla.
I always let my syrups boil for about 2 mins and then simmer for a while before finally being taken off to cool. I prefer the boiled syrup for two reasons – one is that the 2 minute boiling helps to prevent molding, and second -–a boiled syrup has a thicker more viscous and rich mouthfeel than syrup made with the cold method (shaking the sugar and water in a jar until it disolves) At least that`s my own experience.
To make the vanilla syrup here`s what to do:
Take 2-3 beans and split them lengthwise and scrape out all those wonderful tiny little black dots – the seeds. Add to a pan 2.1 or 1.1 sugar to water and add the beans and seeds. Choose a good sugar, like a finely textured light or dark raw cane sugar. Heat up and slightly boil for about a minute, then let simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes and stir sometimes.
A little trick i`m frequently using for a tasty syrup when using a light sugar is to add a pinch of light muscovado – that adds a deeper flavor. Take off the heat and cool. The longer you leave it to cool and steep the more vanilla flavor you`ll get. Then strain and pour in clean bottles. I sometimes leave the beans in the bottles as well. So what are you waiting for? Get working on the stove and before you know it you`ll have a wonderful vanilla syrup – vanilla syrup really enhances the flavor in many cocktails.