Quick story: I absolutely love to bake, but I recently ran out of every baker’s go-to item: vanilla extract.  So, I went to the local farmer’s market (also known as my heaven) to pick some up.  Of course I picked up a bottle of pure extract, but it cost $7.00 for 4oz!  
When I got home, I did a bit of research, purchased vanilla beans online, bought some 4oz glass bottles, and lots of vodka.  Turns out making vanilla extract is very simple, and makes a fantastic gift too!
Here is a brief how-to for those out there that would like to save a little money on their extract.  I made a bunch because I figured it would make great holiday or birthday gifts for all the bakers in my life.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
makes 24 bottles
-1/2 lb of vanilla beans (you’re going to have a bit left over, I gave mine to friends, but you can make homemade vanilla vodka with them if you like!)
-slightly more than 96 oz of Vodka
-24 4oz glass bottles
-Cut your vanilla beans in half, and then make a slice down the center to expose the yummy “caviar” inside.
-Insert beans (don’t take the caviar out) into your bottle.  I added 3 half beans per bottle.
-Fill bottle with vodka
-Give it a good shake
Now, is the hard part…waiting.  You’re going to have to wait about 8 weeks for it to become a true extract.  Every week, just give your bottles a good shake.
Do your research on the vanilla beans, otherwise you can end up spending a pretty penny.  Also, make sure they are fresh and preferably vacuum sealed.  Otherwise, the caviar inside is completely dried up and it won’t be as potent.
Maybe I’m a cheapskate, but I would much rather spend around $1.50 versus $7.00 on a 4oz bottle of pure vanilla extract.  Plus, as an added bonus, people are really impressed that you made it yourself!
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12 Responses to Make: Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. Amber says:

    Fun post :) I did a post just like this not long ago! I love vanilla <3

  2. lexy says:

    Thank you! Isn’t it so easy and fantastic?! I’m such a sucker for saving money :)

  3. Kali says:

    Wow, this is great! By the way, do you have any specific brand of vodka that should be used to make this?

    • lexy says:

      Thank you! I used a middle of the road priced vodka (with rebates!), and it turned out just fine. I’m sure any would do though!

  4. anda says:

    Cool! I’ll try this soon because I use vanilla extract in a lot of things and the good quality stuff costs so much! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. annie says:

    i wonder what else vanilla can be used for besides baking. any great drinks to share? i’d love to be able to add ideas to the tag. thanks!

    • lexy says:

      That’s a great question! Hmm…looks like I’m going to have to do some research and see what I come up with!

  6. [...] tablespoons pure vanilla extract (try the wonderful homemade recipe here!), or a whole vanilla [...]

  7. Ann says:

    Im making this tomorrow. What a great gift idea too. Doesn’t some vanilla extract have bourbon it it? Could you use some of that as well? And Do you think I could use vanilla bean paste instead of the bean? Thanks!

    • lexy says:

      I know some vanilla extract does have bourbon in it, but I am really not sure how it is infuse or how much you should add. As far as vanilla bean paste, I would do one using the paste and one using the caviar from the bean, see which comes out better and go from there. I’ve always used the caviar and had great results, so again, I’m not much help. Let me know how it goes though and maybe I’ll change up my recipe!

  8. joan wolf says:

    I want to make the vanilla extract and vanilla vodka for Christmas (have already made many, many, Kahlua or Coffee liquer from the Gentlemen’s recipe, actually making some as we speak. However, I’m concerned about storage and if there is anything special to do with the extract, liquer, etc. after bottling to store until Christmas.

    I will be making prickly pear vodka etc in Sept. Any info on storage for these would be appreciated.

    • lexy says:

      Hi there! The vanilla extract should last for a very long time. Definitely longer than Christmas. Actually, the longer you let vanilla extract age, the better it becomes (same with vanilla vodka). You don’t have to do anything special for storage, just keep the bottles in a cool dry area.

      Hopefully that helps a little!

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