Honey infused with a quality vanilla pod is as good as you might imagine. Sweet honey flavor with mellow overtones of vanilla and marshmallow. The specks floating in suspension are something that looks odd at first, but if you know true vanilla, you know that this will be a sign of some amazing flavor to come.
Infusing honey with vanilla is not a complicated thing to do by any means, but it does require just a touch of consideration to get it right. Take a moment to review the details before committing to assembly.
1 large fresh vanilla bean, dried per the instructions
1 pound wildflower honey
- Examine the vanilla bean. If it is quite fresh, and supple, leave it out for a few days in room temperature air to dry out. Do not be concerned if it becomes dehydrated looking, it will plump back up once in the honey. If it is mostly dried when you have it, proceed to the next step.
- Take the bean and slice it through the center lengthwise. Scrape the caviar into the honey.
- Leave the bean (and caviar) to infuse the honey permanently.
– The longer the bean is in the honey, the more vanilla flavor will develop. If you use some of the honey, you can top it off and keep the bean covered. In time when the caviar is spent, refresh the recipe with a new jar.
Facilitating a Dry Environment for the Infusion
About Dehydrating the Vanilla
The purpose of drying the bean out is to relieve it of some of the moisture it is holding. If it were to be placed in the honey, the osmotic process of the honey penetrating the bean would push the water out of the vanilla and the excess moisture would create an environment for yeasts to ferment.
One vanilla bean does not hold a lot of moisture, but if the bean is very fresh, it could have enough to make an impact.
Most bottled honey, straight from the hive, is at a low enough moisture level that any excess moisture driven from the vanilla bean would not cause a concern. If however you wanted to be doubly sure, you could measure it with a refractometer.
Most bottled honey is under 18% moisture, and closer to 17%. If you find that your honey happens to be on the higher end of the scale, you can put it in a pot on the stove and heat it at low heat to drive some of the moisture out.
Direct Infusion Method with Vanilla Extract
Can you infuse honey with a prepared vanilla extract? Yes…. It does require a different assembly and yields a different product, but you can achieve a vanilla infused honey quickly using this alternative method.
The key to assembly is to cook out the alcohol while combining the extract in the honey.
1 tablespoon prepared vanilla extract, or to taste
1 pound wildflower honey
- Pour the pound of honey into a small pot, and bring it to 95°F to 100°F over low heat.
- Once it is to temperature, add the extract and stir it in until fully combined.
- Constantly stir the honey for 10 to 15 minutes to cook off the alcohol*.
- After time, take a sample and put it on a cold plate. Allow it to cool (be careful here, do not scald your mouth), and then taste it.
– If there are still remnants of alcohol, cook it longer.
– Once it is to your liking, move the pot off of the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
- Pour back into the jar and label.
*Most extracts are prepared with alcohol and if you consumed them directly, without heating them in the manner above, you would likely get quite a hit of alcohol taste. Stirring them into the honey at temperature cooks off some of the alcohol.
Vanilla extracts are made with different formulas and the alcohol strength and flavors vary. Experiment with this until you end up with a product that tastes good to you – or use a vanilla bean as outlined in the recipe above.