Chocolate is one of my favorite food groups, but I love a good vanilla flavor. I'm pretty picky about my vanilla, though. (No surprise there). I hate vanilla flavored foods, especially ice cream, that have weak flavor or weird aftertastes. I need straight-up pure vanilla bean flavor. I want to see bean flecks in my vanilla concoctions.
A while back I was the lucky recipient of some vanilla bean samples from work- One from Indonesia and one from Papua New Guinea. I opted to use the Papua New Guinea beans in my vanilla bean soda experiment because they smelled the best to me. Plus, it gives me a chance to kick a shout out to my cousin and her family that are living there! Hi Conners!
I wanted to make a vanilla bean soda because:
#1: I'm hooked on the "Dry" brand vanilla sodas at the Co-op.
#2: I love a really simple soda recipe
#3: My friend Sarah is obsessed with vanilla
So I gave it a whirl and really like the results! It's richer in color and flavor than the Dry Soda and a bit less fizzy. And, of course, it tastes yeasty since the carbonation comes from natural fermentation rather than charging with CO2.
Vanilla Bean Soda
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 quarts water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 tsp. champagne yeast
Place vanilla bean and scrapings in a large pot with 2 quarts of the water, sugar and raisins. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally to keep sugar dissolved.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Then strain the brew into another pot and add the remaining 2 quarts of water. Discard vanilla and raisins or think of a creative use for them.
In a little cup, stir the yeast up with a bit of water. Make sure the brew is no hotter than lukewarm (wait longer if it's too warm) and then add the yeast/water. Stir well and dispense into heavy-duty seal-able bottles. Set aside in a warm place to carbonate.
*This took about a week in our 60 degree (F) house. In the summer it will probably take about 24-36 hours. Just check every day or so to make sure things don't get explosive! Refrigerate when desired carbonation level is reached.
Want other soda recipes? I'll try to post more of ours that we've done in the past (and future!).
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