Joy the Baker

How to Make Vanilla Extract

June 24, 2009

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Bust out the booze friends!  I’ve got a weekend project for you!

We’re making our very own vanilla extract!  Why?  Why make your own vanilla extract when you can just buy the stuff in a teeeeeeny tiny bottle at the grocery store for close to ten whopping dollars?  Hm… see what I did there?  I seem to have answered my own question.

Homemade vanilla extract only requires a handful of things.  Come on… we can totally rock this.

First let’s talk vanilla beans.  Yea… they’re a tad bit expensive, but totally worth their weight in… vanilla.

There are a lots different varieties of vanilla beans.  So many varieties all with their own subtle nuances… it can be a bit overwhelming.  There are beans from Madagascar, Mexico, Tahiti, Tonga… just throw a dart at the map and they just might produce vanilla beans there. Ok.  I’m exaggerating.   Different beans from all over the globe have different characteristics.  We could talk about this for days… seriously.  Here’s a brief brief brief run down of my favorites.

Madagascar beans are powerful, dark, full vanilla flavor beans.    Tahitian beans remind me of vanilla figs- fruity and floral.  The Mexican variety has just a hint of sweet creaminess.  How’s that for brief?

What beans are you going to choose for your vanilla extract?  Where are you going to get them?  Use exactly any bean you want!   Maybe you’ll buy them online here.  Use exactly whatever you can get your hands on.  Mix and match!  It’s your world.  It’s your extract.

This is going to be so easy!  Let’s get started!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I started two types of vanilla extract.  One jar is filled with vodka and  Mexican vanilla beans (on the left above) while the other jar has bourbon and Tahitian vanilla beans (on the right, silly).  I’m beyond excited!  I’m ready to bathe in this stuff.

Print this Recipe!

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own vanilla extract:

- A mason jar, or some other clean, super sealing container.

- A high-proof alcohol like vodka, bourbon or rum.  We’re talking 80 proof.

- Three vanilla beans per cup of alcohol

- A dark spot to store the jars.

-  Two months.  That’s how long it takes to create vanilla extract!

Here’s how:

Use a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down the center of the vanilla beans, leaving about an inch at the top of the vanilla bean uncut.

Put the vanilla beans in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  I used mason jars.

Cover the beans completely with alcohol.  It’s three vanilla beans per cup of alcohol, so if you use 2 cups of vodka split open six vanilla beans and throw them in the jar.

Tightly cover the jar and give it a good shake.  Store in a cool dry place for two months.  Give the bottle a good shake every week or so, just so you don’t forget all about it.

After two months have passed, your vanilla extract should be ready for your favorite chocolate chip cookie or pound cake recipe.  You might also want to put the extract in cute, tiny bottles and give them to your favorite baker friends.


289 Comments Add A Comment

  • I made these as Christmas gifts this year. The longer they sit, the better they get! I bought the vanilla beans in bulk online, but they weren’t the fat, pretty beans that I love- though they got the job done!

  • What a great idea! I actually have an over abundance of vanilla beans from a spice buying binge in Indonesia. This would be the perfect way to use some of them. Do you think that once the extract is finished, I could still use the beans to make vanilla sugar?

  • i make my own extract, too. i have a nice one going right now with golden rum as the base. when i have a been where i’ve scraped the seeds out for something else, i pop the pod in my jar and top it up with more rum. smells so good, and the jar looks so cute on the counter!

  • ahhh,, a person after my own heart. I make vanilla extract too after reading that awesome thread on egullet. I buy a 750ml bottle of vodka, chop and scrape up 12 tahitian vanilla beans (it’s the closest flavor to dominican vanilla that I grew up with) and let it sit for minimum 6 months but it’s best after a year.

    It’s amazing and I have my parents hooked on it. I had to send my mom with a small supply because my dad says that my poundcake recipe is not the same without it. I think I bought about 50 super oily and plump vanilla beans from vanillabeansusa on ebay. Super reasonable and they came vacuum packed.

  • I just love making my vanilla extract and have been doing so for years. My preference is using brandy which adds to the coloring of the vanilla extract.

    Seems at least once a year I have a bottle brewing, just never know when I’ll be running out. I just let it sit in a dark area, mix it up now & then. There have been times that it sat for many months and it improves w/age…. just love it.

  • I get a 32oz bottle at the Chef’s catalog store here in Colorado Springs for 35 bucks…lasts me a couple of years

  • You’re my hero, Joy! Thank you so much for this.

  • Nice! This is the type of project I plan to do but never get around to. Although I do like the sound of the Mexican vanilla bean. We’ll see. Great info Joy!

  • Love it! It makes so much sense to make your own with the cost of it at the stores…thanks for the inspiration!

  • ooh, I’m going to try that today! I have rum and tahiti vanilla beans on hand.

  • I had no idea it was that simple to make vanilla extract. I could share with my friend! Thank-you Joy!

  • What a great tip! I can’t wait to try this!

  • So cool!! When we went to Tahiti I was so excited to buy some vanilla beans on the cheap, but low and behold they were more expensive there than they are here! I’m so excited about making this, I don’t know how I’ll wait 2 months!

  • Thanks Joy!

    This would be a seriously good idea to get moving on for Christmas gifts! Thanks for the great tips!

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