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I Am planning on adding a vanilla pod to secondary in my next brew. What is the best way to sanitize it before it goes in?

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3 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Cover it in vodka (as little as possible), and put both the vanilla pod and the vodka into the beer.

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Split and scrape the beans first to increase surface area contact –  Mike Nov 19 '10 at 13:45
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I use vanilla quite a bit to make my Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter and I've never sanitized the beans, nor suffered any ill effects from not sanitizing them. By the time they get into the beer in secondary, the alcohol content and low pH of the beer make it pretty resistant to infection. And remember, the best part of the vanilla bean is the "gunk" inside it. Split the bean lengthwise, scrape out the "gunk", and add both it and the pod to the secondary. That's all you need to do. I dislike adding vodka to my beers since it adds a disagreeable "heat" to the beer.

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Would boiling water be ok to use instead of vodka? –  mR_fr0g Nov 19 '10 at 17:11
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There's just no need for it. But if you were going that route, remember that you need to maintain 160 for 10 min. to sanitize. –  Denny Conn Nov 19 '10 at 17:50
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And the more heat the vanilla is subjected to, the more aroma and flavor you are going to lose to the air. Vanillin is quite volatile. –  rainoftoads Nov 23 '10 at 17:40
    
Totally agree. If you can dry hop without sterilizing why would vanilla beans be any different. –  Chris Plaisier Jun 8 '12 at 16:04
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You can wipe your beans with rubbing alcohol. You do not have to worry about the seeds unless your bean has begun to rot. If this is the case do not use it, THROW it away.

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I'm not getting Isopropyl anywhere near anything I want to drink, thanks. –  baka Jun 8 '12 at 15:28
    
Vodka or Everclear would be a much better alternative to isopropyl. Something about intentionally adding poisonous compounds to to a drink scares me. –  Wulfhart Jun 8 '12 at 16:51
    
Agreed. Some high-proof drinking alcohol would be the way to go if you want to use alcohol for sanitizing. –  JoeFish Dec 13 '12 at 0:42
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