March 6, 2015

How To: Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

I was introduced to the idea of making my own vanilla extract about a year ago from a good friend of mine who has been making hers for years.  I made my first batch almost a year ago, so it is almost ready for use and I am so excited.  In the mean time, she gave me some of hers to sample and it was so yummy!  I decided that I want to make some for gifts for Christmas this year and need to start now so that it will be almost ready by the time they receive it.

There are many different variations for making vanilla; what kind of alcohol you use, what kind of beans you use, how many beans you use, and how long you let it sit.  I will just share with you what I have done.  There are many places you can find more information.  One of the best I have found is here.


You can choose Vodka, Brandy, Bourbon, or White Rum to make your vanilla with.  Vodka will give you the most pure flavor.  Just purchase the inexpensive stuff, but make sure it is plain and has no flavors.  Other alcohols produce great vanilla as well, but they have a different flavor.  My friend gets me alcohol at the local Air Force Base because it is cheaper.  It was about $12 for the large bottle I got.  Here in Utah, we can't get liquor at the grocery store.  We have to go to the State Liquor Store.  I don't ever drink, so I've never been to the liquor store, so I don't know how much a large bottle would normally cost.

A funny story about that.  About a year ago, when my friend brought over my bottle of Vodka, I stuck it in my pantry.  Like I said earlier,  I don't drink.  Like NEVER.  Like, I've never had a sip of alcohol in my life.  Neither has my husband.  So imagine his surprise when he opened the pantry that night.  He said "Uh, Amanda?  Did you have a bad day?"  It was hilarious!


There are several types of vanilla beans.  My friend prefers Madagascar beans, so that is what I have gotten in the past.  They tend to be cheaper and have a bolder flavor (like Mexican Beans). She has also used Uganda Gold and says it is more expensive, lighter in color, but not less flavor.  Tahitian beans tend to have a lighter flavor.  

When you purchase your beans you want to make sure and get Grade B beans.  Grade B beans are "extract" grade and have less water content than Grade A beans, which make them ideal for flavor extraction.  They are also cheaper because you usually by vanilla beans by weight, so you'll get more beans for your buck!  

You can order beans from gourmet spice shops, like the San Francisco Herb Company, Beanilla, or even Amazon.

  • 1/5 (750 mL) Vodka, Brandy, Bourbon, or White Rum
  • 20-25 beans (about 3 oz)

  • Cutting Board
  • Knife


1. Split the beans so the insides are exposed

2. Remove about 1/4 cup of alcohol to make room for the beans.

3. Put the beans in the bottle

4. Put the lid back on

5. Put the start date on bottle

6. Store in a cool dry place for 1 year.  Shake bottle at least once a month.  The longer you let it soak, the more flavor you will have.


When the vanilla is done, strain the extract using a cheesecloth.  Pour the extract into individual bottles (using a funnel).  Put 2-3 vanilla beans in the bottle so that it can continue to extract.  Put a lid on, a cute label, and share with friends and family!

You can purchase bottles on,, or Amazon. You can also purchase Cork and Tags on Amazon.

I have created these printable tags for you.  They are for the Martha Stewart Avery Brown Kraft Labels. There are 6 tags on a 4x6 page.

Talk about being organized for Christmas! Get your Vanilla made now and Christmas gifts will be a cinch! Yum!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...