This section is from the book "A Treatise On Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler", by Charles Herman Sulz. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Beverages.
For exhausting the vanilla bean, various writers have suggested many different processes. Simple percolation, re-percolation, digestion, and prolonged maceration followed by percolation, both with a cold and warm menstruum, and either for a limited or unlimited time, have been recommended. Some writers prefer strong alcohol as a menstruum, others diluted alcohol. The United States Pharmacopoeia directs the tincture of vanilla to be made with sugar and reduced alcohol. Whatever process is to be followed, attention should be given as to selecting the finest Mexican vanilla bean. A good quality, although, perhaps, seeming more expensive, will be the cheapest in the end for preparing the extract. It is unwise to purchase vanilla in a broken condition; the inferior kind of Mexican bean, sometimes cut up into small pieces of an inch or so, should not be used. Inferior beans yield an inferior extract.
The Formula of the United States Pharmacopoeia is prac-tically as follows: Vanilla, cut into small slices and bruised, ten ounces; sugar, in coarse powder, twenty ounces; alcohol, water, each a sufficient quantity. Mix alcohol and water in the proportion of two parts of alcohol to one part of water to make 100 parts, or sixty-six and two-thirds ounces alcohol to thirty-three and one-third ounces water. Macerate the vanilla in fifty ounces of this mixture for twelve hours, then drain off the liquid, and set it aside. Transfer the vanilla to a mortar, beat it with the sugar into a uniform powder, then pack it in a percolator, and pour upon it the reserved liquid; when this has disappeared from the surface gradually pour on menstruum, and continue the percolation until 100 fluid ounces of tincture are obtained.
In a paper read before the Pennsylvania Pharmaceutical Association, Mr. J. P. Patton suggested the following process for preparing fluid extract of vanilla, as a modification of methods previously in use. Reduce eight troy ounces of vanilla bean to a moderately fine powder with eight troy ounces of sugar; macerate for thirty or sixty days in two pints of deodorized alcohol, add a mixture of three and a half pints of deodorized alcohol and two and a half pints of water, and again macerate for thirty days and filter. The product is said to improve with age. This may be of some benefit to some of our readers.
The Druggist's Circular published the following formula, saying that it gives good results:
Vanilla beans, one pound; granulated sugar, two pounds; alcohol and water, sufficient. Cut the beans in small pieces and macerate in a closed vessel for twenty-four hours, with a mixture of two volumes of alcohol and one volume of water (that is, a mixture of sixteen fluid ounces of alcohol, two volumes, and eight fluid ounces of water, one volume), using enough of this menstruum to cover the beans well. Then drain in a funnel, and place the cut vanilla beans in a mortar with the sugar, and rub well together. Then transfer to a percolator, and pour on the reserved liquid. Continue the percolation until the finished tincture measures twenty pints. With careful manipulation the vanilla beans can be almost perfectly exhausted by the above procedure.