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!
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.
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!
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.
Hello. I have made a few jars of vanilla. I opened one after 6 months. I used vodka, is it still supposed to smell like vodka?
it should smell like vanilla vodka. the smell of alcohol will not disappear.
Hi, I was wondering if I could re-use the beans for another bottle of vanilla extract?
you could! i would just add a few fresh beans as well!
Sister Janet Strong er. dio
I am interested in making homemade Mexican Vanilla. It has such a wonderful and different smell and taste than the Vanilla that we have in North America and Europe. Do you have any idea how to make it?
Not exactly but I’m sure a quick Google search will give you all of the answers :)
The type of vanilla you end up with depends on three things:
1. Type of alcohol used
2. Type of vanilla bean used
To get Mexican vanilla, all you need are Mexican Vanilla beans! They are one of the more expensive readily available beans out there, so plan accordingly. (my last batch, I paid about $1.25 per bean, compared to the $0.70 per Bourbon-Madagascar bean)
My first attempt I went with the typical Bourbon-Madagascar beans in two batches – one batch in vodka, one in rum. And both were amazing!
Now that I have experience with the process, I have begun to custom mix and blend to get just the flavor I like.
This year, I made 6 batches, 3 rum and 3 vodka, and then each had either Bourbon-Madagascar (B-M), Mexican, or Tahitian vanilla beans.
I have found that my ideal is a blend of B-M & Mexican beans. I like the boldness and strength of flavor from the B-M beans, and the smoky earthiness from the Mexican beans (approx 2 parts B-M to 1 part Mex). I also prefer mine in Rum, as it gives it that little extra bit of caramelly sultry smoothness. In vodka, I make a B-M & Tahitian blend. Vodka based vanilla’s tend to be a bit lighter in flavor, and that is a better compliment to the Tahitian flavor.
It all comes down to what tickles your pallet :)
Have fun experimenting!
Has anyone tried this with gin, I love gin and am thinking of trying a gin vanilla extract. What do you think?
Sister Janet Strong er. dio
I am interested in making homemade Mexican Vanilla. One can find it in Mexican markets and it has a very different and wonderful flavor and smell than the smell we get in North America, and Europe. Any ideas?
I tried making this, but kept running out of bourbon… ;-)
Seriously great tip. It is amazing how simple things are to make on your own and healthier. I have gotten on this “roll your own” kick lately. I make my own Butter, Mayo, Ketchup, Mustard, Cheeses, Sour Cream etc… My kids think I am crazy, yet they find things to put my homemade condiments on because they taste so much better… Now I have Vanilla to add to the mix. Thank You!