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My wife just kicked a bottle of vanilla extract. She bakes a lot and buys the good stuff that comes with a bean in it. I think i want to add the bean to my double-chocolate stout that's in the secondary. Right now I have the carboy in the fridge trying to get the yeast to settle out.

If I throw the bean in now, will it have any impact, or will the low temps make it a waste of a bean? Should I throw the bean in whole, or should I chop it up, maybe scrape the caviar out and add the skin and caviar separately? Should I do anything to sanitize the bean before I add it? Soak it in vodka then add the bean & vodka?

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Great question. –  brewchez Mar 2 '10 at 12:34
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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The oils in the bean are soluble in alcohol.

  • Temperature probably won't affect the process much
  • The more surface area the additive has, the faster & more complete the process will be (chop it up or leave it longer for more vanilla flavor)
  • Can't say about the question of caviar v. skin. Maybe taste each part to get an idea of what they will impart to your stout.
  • Vanilla extract is already an alcoholic solution. If the bean hasn't been sitting out, it should be pretty clean.
  • Check that your stout has produced alcohol. It should be fully attenuated (dropped to its predicted final gravity). The booze in the beer ought to take care of any nasties. If you are paranoid, soak it in vodka for an hour or so.
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Thanks for the great answer. I think I'll split it, scrape it, then add both the skin & caviar, like one would do when making ice cream. The bean hasn't been sitting out, but the bottle has been empty for a little while and the bean hasn't been fully submerged since the bottle was new. But I probably don't have anything to worry about since the beer currently has 6.9% ABV. –  JackSmith Feb 19 '10 at 15:19
    
Scraping the bean first and chopping the skin is always the best way to handle a been for infusion applications. –  brewchez Mar 2 '10 at 12:34
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I just got done with a vanilla porter and it is fantastic. After transferring to the secondary I anded half of a bean just split in half. If I added any more than that I think it would be over powering.

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Good comment. Were you using a new vanilla bean or was this one salvaged from an empty bottle of extract as mine was? I think a new bean would be stronger as the one from the extract would have had a lot of its flavor extracted already. –  JackSmith Mar 15 '10 at 12:52
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If you ever go to Mexico, you can get some vanilla extract, that itself has a pretty high alcohol content, for really cheap. Just a '0' vote comment, if you're still reading about vanilla.

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Mexican vanilla, while delicious, has a very different flavor than Madagascar vanilla, which is what we're used to having in the states. It's crazy cheap in the border states, though. –  Bad Neighbor Sep 16 '11 at 15:49
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