Drinking Week #5: Vanilla Rum, Part 2
In the last Drinking Week post, I described the first steps in making Vanilla Rum. This week, I’ll finish up the process.
Since the last step from my prior post, the vanilla beans have been soaking in the dark rum. The bottle was stored in a cool, dark cabinet. Whenever I could remember, I pulled the bottle out and shook it up a bit, both side to side and inverting it. The vanilla beans are sticky, and tend not to move around much, even under vigorous shaking.
Two ingredients are needed for the second stage of the process – sugar and glycerin. I use cane sugar, as I like the taste it gives to the final rum. Regular granulated sugar will work, however. Put one cup of the cane sugar into one cup of water in a pot on the stove, and slowly heat it up over low to moderate heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved in the water and it begins to boil slightly. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. I often put the whole pot into the refrigerator, using a potholder to protect the refrigerator shelf.
While the sugar solution is cooling, it is time to decant the rum*. Place a coffee filter into a strainer, and suspend it over a bowl that is large enough to hold all of the rum. Pour about a quarter of the rum into the coffee filter and allow it filter through the paper. The rum will come out of the bottle slightly cloudy, but should be clear after going through the filter (you can see the difference in the photo below). Change filters, and continue the process. I usually need about four filters to strain all of the rum.
Once the rum is filtered and the sugar solution is cool, mix the two together. The last step is to add glycerin, which thickens the liqueur. Slowly drizzle two tablespoons of food-grade glycerin into the Vanilla Rum, stirring steadily the whole time. You don’t want the glycerin to settle to the bottom of the bowl before it has a chance to dissolve into the Vanilla Rum. Once the glycerin has been added, bottle the Vanilla Rum. It should fit nicely into a one liter bottle. Cap it and set it aside to mellow for another month or two. While it is drinkable immediately, it greatly benefits from the extra time. I usually put the bottle back into the same cabinet I used for the first part of the process.
Don’t throw out the vanilla bean pods after you’ve decanted the rum from the bottle. Instead, fish the vanilla pods out of the bottle (tweezers often help). Let them dry overnight on a paper towel and cut them into shorter lengths – quarters work well. Take two cups of cane sugar and put them into a glass jar with a lid (I use Mason canning jars). Drop the beans into the jar, seal it, and shake well. Over time, the vanilla rum flavor from the bean pods will be taken up by the sugar. Use the sugar for baked goods, or anywhere else you might want to add a bit of vanilla flavor. It works well in hot chocolate, for example.