Homemade Vanilla Extract

I love vanilla extract and like to use organic, but it’s really expensive, so I decided to make my own.  It was surprisingly easy.  Split the bean and put them in a jar – I used a half-gallon mason jar but you could also use a quart – pour over the vodka and let it sit for around 2 month in your cupboard, shaking occasionally.

As I ended up making a half-gallon of extract, I bought a supply of 2 and 4 oz jars and made pretty labels so I could give them away as gifts. I think next time I’ll get some 8oz jars too.  When the extract was all decanted into the jars, I scraped the inside of the leftover beans and saved all those bits of vanilla in a little jar as Vanilla Paste. You can use that interchangeably with vanilla but you’ll get all the nice little bits, which is especially nice for ice cream. In the picture the jar on the left has the paste, and the left over beans and vanilla are in the jar on the right. I ran out of bottles.  Also I put one of the beans, or half a bean for the smaller bottles in with the vanilla. I think they look pretty and will keep the flavor up.

I bought my vanilla beans at https://www.starwest-botanicals.com/

I got ¼ of a pound, which they say gives you 30-35 beans for $32 dollars, which is a great price for organic vanilla beans. They were very fresh and now I have some left over for other recipes too.  Oh, and I bought my vodka at Trader Joe’s, their brand, a big bottle for $10.00. I would try to find organic vodka next time, but I couldn’t find any for this recipe. I just now found it on the web for $12 for a 750ml bottle, not bad! 

Considering that organic vanilla can run you from $6 – $12 dollars for a two ounce bottle, with this recipe you can make it yourself for around $1.30 per two ounce bottle. That’s a big difference.


8 cups Vodka

24 vanilla beans

You can quarter this recipe and use a quart jar if you’d like, then you’d only need 6 vanilla beans.

Cut the vanilla beans, the long way, from the bottom (the top has a little stem) all the way up to the last inch and stop there. That way the bean is almost split into two but it stays intact at the stem.

Put the split beans into your jar, and cover with vodka.  You can push the bean down so they’re totally covered and then fill the jar almost to the top.  Put the lid on and put it into a dark cupboard.  You can shake it every few days or not. I shook mine just a few times over the eight weeks.  I also wrote the date on the top of the jar, on a sticky note, so I’d remember when it was eight weeks.

After the eight weeks is up, you can flavor it if you like.  You can use a little simple sugar syrup or a little dark rum, 1 tsp. per cup of vodka.  I used the rum.

I made the labels using Avery 2×4 inch labels and thought they came out really pretty. These will make great holiday gifts, plus we’ll have lots of vanilla for ourselves for a long while too.  Enjoy!

See  more great gift ideas at the Handmade Gift Carnival here: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/11/handmade-gift-carnival.html

Read more, great Real Food Wednesday posts here: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2009/10/real-food-wednesday-101409.html

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