EXTRACTO DE VAINILLA. Hjemmelaget vanilje ekstrakt

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This is a must-have-ingredient for the venezuelan sweet cuisine. Although, what we call over there: “escencia de vainilla” is actually “vainillina” (vainillin) which is the chemical version of the vanilla extract, it is a black liquid in a plastic bottle and very reasonably priced.

So since over here we can not buy the big old 500 ml botle of vainillin…how about making our own… making it even better, with the real stuff and best of all: chemical free!

I bought the cheapest vodka I could find around, plus eight vanilla beans… at first it might not be so cheap to put this recipe together, but once you have done it…  you would be soooo happy that you won´t even remember how much you had “invested” in it.

I found the vanilla beans in the Coop Mega (Norwegian shop) and the vodka in the Vinmnopolet (yeap…here in Norway the off licenses are clean, extremely tidy places and with sommeliers ready to guide you through your shop,  here any supermarket sells alcohol.  In the venezuelan “licorerias” by contrast… you can buy all one might need when it comes to a drinking feast: spirits, beer, rum, vodka, tequila, whisky, wine, anis, plastic cups, fizzy drinks, cool boxes, huge bags of ice cubes, snacks, cigarettes, lighters and matches, chewing gum, lottery tickets, hehehe.. you name it… amazing huh?)

Back to the extract recipe….One tea spoon of it is a flavorful one, as soon as you open that bottle the whole kitchen will be filled with its scent.


A botle of the cheapest vodka ( I used a 350ml bottle)

8 vanilla beans

1 cork


Slice the vanilla beans split open and using the knife scrap off their content, put vanilla scrapings and beans into the bottle. Give it a good shake and keep it in your cupboard (I waited 2 months to start using it). I used the cork as a cap for the bottle.

As days go by, you will notice how the vodka starts changing colour and the aroma of the beans takes over. Don´t forget to shake it once in a while and before using it.

Top up with fresh vodka as you use the extract.

Ps. I love the picture that the vanilla beans look like creepy creatures growing up inside the bottle 🙂


SARRAPIA. Tonka Bean

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It is one of the best kept secrets among the Venezuelan spices and is my favourite.

This wonderful tree is the pride of the Bolivar state in Venezuela. In the year 1847 Guayana (the venezuelan one) starts the exporting of this fruit, reaching its peak production by 1942, sadly the industry declined in the year 1965. Hundreds of shipments used to departure from the port of Ciudad Bolivar to all over the world.

Sarrapia is also known locally as: yape or sarrapio. This tree can reach up to 30 mts high, its harvest time is from january til april. Even though its wood is of great value, the most valuable part of it are its seeds. This almond like seed (only in appereance) has a fragrance reminiscent of vanilla, cloves and cinnamon…. but not quite (once you smell it you will know what I mean!!). It is often used as an additive for: tobbaccos, perfumes, soaps, spirits and desserts (mainly in France). Nowadays is mostly used by the cosmetic industry. to obtain 1 kilo of sarrapia 300-400 fruits are needed.

I am very proud of this flowering tree, a native to our mighty Orinoco river banks… it deserves its own entry on my blog. Its usage in the kitchen is grated (using a microplane grater preferably) since its fragrance is very powerful and only a tiny bit is required.

For the spanish speakers here it is a video of the chef Tamara Rodriguez, explaining more about this gorgeous tree  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IWInOhxihw

I can only hope that you get hold of some of it on your next trip to Venezuela, or from anywhere in the world you may come across it. I am quite sure you will enjoy having it among your most exotic kitchen spices.





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The measurements I use on my recipes are based on weight… I weight everything! It helps to get the recipes 100% right each time making them fool-proof.

This recipe comes from my granny´s kitchen, many afternoons in Caracas were sweetened by this creamy, spreadable like dessert, the lime cuts through the richness of it, giving it a: ”I can´t help but eating it all by my self” flavour. feel free to use it on toasts, knekkebrød or cake fillings.


500 gr full fat milk (great in Norway)

150 gr sugar

2 tbsp fresh lime juice (or lemons, if you prefer a milder citrus effect)

1 lime rind

Pour milk and sugar into a saucepan, bring it to boil then lower temperature (around Nr 7 for electric stoves) add the lime juice and its rind, this will split the mixture (that´s the whole point).

From now on all you need to do is to stir ocasionally, using a wooden spoon, to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. It will thicken as the liquid evaporates (after around 20 min) when in this point, it will start changing colour, turning into a rich caramel like one. Keep your eyes on it! because you are the one who decides how dark and sticky you want it.

After it has cooled down it will go even thicker, if you prefer it smoother simply add a bit of hot water into the mixture. Store it in a glass jar, it keeps for weeks and weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!

Ps. It can be mixed with: dried fruits, nuts or pieces of your favorite fruit.