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Archive for November, 2010

If your like me and process your own herbs you know that sometimes it can be a very tedious chore.  Although I do love harvesting and processing my own herbs I am always looking for tools or techniques which make the job easier.  When I harvest and process Lemongrass I have always cut the herb up to dry using a pair of kitchen shears.  However, the job was very time consuming and usually resulted in me ending up with a blister on the knuckle of my thumb.  So here is what I came up with which has made the job much easier….

What weve have here is merely a paper cutter.  Once I snip off any wilted or brown areas I place the stalks (leaves) of the lemongrass underneath the blade guard.

Sometimes you have to make 1-3 short chops or just one swift chop sometimes works.  Although this process still takes some time it is the easiest way I found to make the job a little less tedious.

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Last year I had a great time making herbal gifts for friends and family for the holidays.  One of my creations was a homemade Vanilla Extract.  Talk about a wonderful flavor to add to all of your holiday recipes.  I wanted to repost this recipe because you need to get started early to make sure its ready for the holidays.

Vanilla pods or beans as they are usually refered to are actually the fruit of the Vanilla planifolia a tropical orchid.  Native to South America, Mexico and the West Indies the Vanilla plant is now frequently cultivated in many areas.  It is interesting to note that the vanilla plants do not self pollinate and must be pollinated by hand.  The pods must be cured at different temperatures for several months before they are ready for market.  Traditionally, curing was done by leaving the beans under a blanket in the sun.  These facts explain why vanilla pods are one of the most expensive spices in the world.   

And now that you know a little about Vanilla pods I’ll tell you how I made my Vanilla Extract.

You will need:

6 Organic Vanilla pods (beans)

2 Cups Vodka (Organic if you can find it.) (or Brandy if you wish)

1 quart jar

Small glass brown bottles

Preparation:

Cut the pods in two right down the middle and scrape out the tiny little seeds inside.  Add these seeds to your quart jar along with the empty pod.  Pour 2 cups of vodka over the pods, replace the lid of the jar and shake the mixture just slightly.  Allow the mixture to sit in a cool dark location for 4 – 6 weeks.  After leaving the mixture to sit for the recommended period of time strain out the seeds and beans and pour the remaining liquid  into a dark brown bottles.

 

And there you have it, homemade Vanilla extract which you can bottle up and give as gifts for the holiday season.  Give it a try at home.  You still have enough time to get a batch prepared before the holidays if you start now.  Enjoy.

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