Saturday, November 26, 2016

Infusing Oil with Vanilla


Throughout this year, I've been making all kinds of infusions in all kinds of things. This particular infusion is one I keep coming back to. It's easy to make, fun to do, and smells so delicious it's pure pleasure for the nose.

I mean, who doesn't love the scent of vanilla?

As you can see from the picture, you don't need all kinds of things to make a great vanilla-infused oil:
  • Vanilla beans
  • Sweet Almond Oil (or Jojoba or Apricot Kernel)
  • Clean jar with tight-fitting lid (canning jars are perfect)


Shall we get started?


But First, Let's Talk Vanilla

I know it can be tempting to buy bargain-priced vanilla. I realize it costs far less than the pricey stuff. My pocketbook can attest to this fact.

But guess what.

Yeah, I know you already know this. The good stuff is pricier for a reason.

I did a few comparison tests, and here's what I found.



The bottom (bigger) vanilla bean cost far more than the 2 top beans (and a few more) together. The top beans definitely smell like vanilla, and if I had not set out to compare, I might never have been the wiser.

But I did. And here's how I put them to the test.

Sniff Test

This test was quite simple: Sniff, then note down immediate reaction

Bargain Beans: yup, that's definitely vanilla
Pricey Beans: intoxicating vanilla-delicious nose candy 

Slice Test



On the left: pricey beans after slicing
On the right: bargain beans after slicing

The beans were sliced right where you see them on the board. The plump juiciness of the pricier bean is pretty evident, don't you agree?

No? Ok, let me remove the beans so you can get a better look.







See what I mean?

OK, let's infuse and see if the difference is still evident!

Formula For Infusing Oil With Vanilla Beans


  • 1 part vanilla beans
  • 10 parts oil (I used sweet almond)





Method


  • Slice beans
  • Place in clean jar
  • Pour oil into jar
  • Seal jar
  • Place in a sunny semi-warm spot (24° - 28°C / 75° - 82°F)
  • Agitate daily while infusing
  • Infuse for 10-14 days





You: What? That's sounds wrong! Normally infusing oils takes WEEKS! MONTHS! Not a mere 14 days?!

Me: In this particular instance, all normal rules are out the window. You see, vanilla beans are magical. They need only 14 days (and the right temperature) to infuse.

Honest.

Stay tuned for a fun straining tip and the final comparison.

Do Tell

Have you made vanilla-infused oil? Which oil did you use? Were you particular about which beans you used?

16 comments:

Signe said...

Wow, I didn't know there are different kind of vanilla beans! I guess we have only those cheaper ones here in supermarkets. I've made vanilla-infused oil for baking (and vanilla extract too), I used sunflower oil, if I remeber right. I liked it (or those both) a lot, should make more of them.

Where do you use your vanilla oil? In cosmetic products? Does anyone know if that scent stays through soaping process?

Lise M Andersen said...

Hi Signe, I would love to know if the scent stays through the soaping process! If you make this and try it, please let me know. I use these in lip balms, lotion bars, face and body oils.-- you name it!

Mickey said...

Hi Lise, I love vanilla, and am currently at week 3 making a tonka bean infusion. They have a strong exotic, spicy vanilla scent. I hope it turns out strong enough to use in a serum or light lotion. Lately I've wondered if it matters what oil is used to infuse. Do you know if the chemical makeup of particular oils infuses the goodness of things better than oher oils? Would FCO do as good of a job as safflower or sunflower oil?
Thanks Lise!

María Zamora said...

Hi Lise.
Try adding fractionated coconut oil on you next batch. Being slightly more polar than regular oils has the capacity of extracting even more, in addition of its extraordinary shelf life.
This infused oil is one of my must-haves and I always have handy.
Another trick I use when I need to give a whack to the infusion is to water-tight the pot and put it into the washing machine. I have my machine setup no further than 60°C, so the oil won't oxidise but the extra heat helps with extraction.
This is my main ingredient for lip balms as I don't find the actual flavour I like (I find then to chemical), so I go for natural: vanilla, coconut and cocoa ;)

Lise M Andersen said...

Hi Mickey - You can use pretty much any oil you like, but it's a good idea to use oils with a longer shelf life. Jojoba and Fractionated Coconut Oil both work well here.

Lise M Andersen said...

You never cease to surprise and delight with your comments Maria!

Chris said...

@Signa: No idea if the scent will persist though I doubt it, but the vanillin in vanilla will probably discolor your soap.

Lise M Andersen said...

Chris - thanks for the input!

Signe said...

Thanks, Chris! :) I too doubt that vanilla scent would stay trough soaping process, but I'd like to try that - the scent of chocolate can survive, so perhaps vanilla could do the same...spices usually colour soaps, and vanilla does that more than many other spices. But I don't mind that, I like that light brown rustic look.

O.G. Yardens said...

I found this when looking for info to infuse oil with tonka beans. Tonkas are supposed to have a similar but more 'magical' scent than vanilla. Have you tried this? Do you think a 14 day infusion would be the same?

Wanting to make some tonka bean soap for X-mas as a private label gift.

Lise M Andersen said...

Hey there O.G. - I haven't tried working with tonka beans but this sounds fascinating! I wish I could be more help here. My best suggestion is to give it a try in 2 or 3 different small batches, then strain batch 1 after 2 weeks, batch 2 after 4 weeks and batch 3 after 6-8 weeks. I'd love to know how it turns out for you.

mz bloom said...

Hi O.G. Yardens and Lise,
I have just completed a trial infusion of 2 shaved Tonka beans in a 1/2 cup of fractionated coconut oil for 7 weeks; did not want to use jojoba in case it did not work out. The scent is divine. I am doing a second filtering of it as it is very cloudy. It became cloudy almost immediately when shavings were put into the FCO. Also, I have mixed feelings about it now. I could not find anyone who had done a Tonka bean infusion but that lead me to read Tonka bean can be harmful...yet it is used in perfume making so that means it is applied to the skin...sometimes these articles never really clarify details. Any input would be greatly appreciated :)

Lise M Andersen said...

Hey there OG - I haven't done enough in depth work with tonka bean to advise you, but have only come across warnings with internal use. It might be worth doing a bit of research on it, as an infusion is not going to have the same characteristics as a concentrate or essential oil. The cloudiness shoyud settle and then you could try a very carefully poured final filtering.

O.G. Yardens said...

Hi Lise- I've done a lot of research. It is illegal to sell food products that have tonka beans in them. Reversible toxicity is achieved around 30 beans (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/11/the-tonka-bean-an-ingredient-so-good-it-has-to-be-illegal/65616/).

I have two ounces on order... 1 ounce is less than 20 beans (https://www.amazon.com/Spices-Cumaru-Vanilla-Dipteryx-odorata/dp/B01701SL4I) 1.8 oz as an example, 30 beans at most.

Tonka beans are purportedly quite aromatic. If 20 beans at most were ground up and used in place of an essential oil after infusing (say, in sunflower oil). Max amount for my recipe is 100 grams infused oil in 24 bars of soap. I don't think toxicity would be an issue? I was planning to research about what comprises essential oils this evening to see if this theory would bear out.... and then I read your email!

Lise M Andersen said...

Hi O-G. - If you are using these in soap then it may not be an issue at all. That said, please don't take my word for it as I am not an expert on the use of tonka beans. If I were to research this, I would start by finding out how the essential oil is made (distillation? Expression?), then go from there. A distillation will NOT have the same components of an herb as a maceration/infusion will. On the other hand, if the essential oil is made by an enfleurage-like process, it could indeed be compared with a maceration as to constituents. So, if you want to be absolutely sure of what you are working with as compared to an essential oil, find out how the essential oil is made. Best of luck with it!

O.G. Yardens said...

Hi all, I usually use castor oil in my soaps and that is an acceptable oil for infusion. I'll try the tonka beans in that and it should be good for a while. Maybe mz bloom can give some insight on how fragrant the infusion ended up :)