Homemade vanilla extract requires only 2 ingredients and a little bit of time. It’s easy to make and cheaper than buying the real thing! Click here to get free labels for your homemade vanilla extract!
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I always see homemade vanilla recipes out during Christmas time. It makes a wonderful gift. However, it takes 2-3 months of sitting in your cupboard to be ready, so if you want it for a homemade food gift, you had better jump on it!
- Vanilla beans-about 3 vanilla beans per cup of alcohol
That’s the whole list-pretty straightforward. You’ll also want a jar to store it in and possible some fancier jars to gift it.
Where can I buy vanilla beans?
I bought my vanilla beans on Amazon, because where I live, it seems to be hard to find them. I was very happy with them, they came nice and soft. I read somewhere that a hard, brittle vanilla bean isn’t fresh and you shouldn’t use it.
There are 3 types of vanilla beans-Mexican, Madagascar and Tahitian and each of them have their own flavor profiles. I used Tahitian grade B vanilla beans, because that is what amazon sold at what I thought was a reasonable price for vanilla beans. (It has taken me a long time to justify spending money on vanilla beans. When they came, I treated them like gold and made everyone smell them). It’s acceptable to use grade B beans in your vanilla extract because it’s an extract. If you’re going to use vanilla beans in something like say, ice cream, use grade A beans.
I also used Smirnoff vodka. It was on sale and came in a big bottle.
How to make homemade vanilla extract:
You’ll need about 3 vanilla beans per cup of vodka. Split your vanilla beans down the middle. Place them in a jar. Pour vodka to the top of the jar. Allow to sit in a cool dark place for 2-3 months and you’re done.
Is it cheaper to make your own vanilla extract?
I found it to be cheaper. When I buy vanilla I usually buy McCormick pure vanilla extract (Amazon tells me I’ve purchased it at least 4 times…) and it costs $34 for 16 ounces. I paid $12.99 for my vanilla beans and found the vodka on sale for about $11 which brings me to about $24 and I was able to make 24 ounces of vanilla extract.
What is the best alcohol to make vanilla extract?
I like to use vodka. It’s clear and I personally think that vodka doesn’t add a ton of it’s own flavor into the situation. But pretty much you can use any high proof alcohol (at least 80 proof) like bourbon or rum as well. I would steer clear of flavored varieties and stick with the regular stuff (which actually was harder to find than I anticipated-apparently people really like their flavored vodka…). We’re trying to make vanilla extract, not vanilla vodka.
Can I re-use my vanilla beans after making extract?
I usually discard my vanilla beans after making extract. They’ve been sitting in the vodka for 3 months and they’re wet and gross and in theory have had most of their flavor extracted.
When do I reuse a vanilla bean? After say I’ve scraped out the insides to make a recipe like ice cream sometimes I’ll throw it in a jar of sugar and make vanilla infused sugar.
How to package your homemade vanilla extract:
It’s totally fine to leave your vanilla in whatever jar you made it in. I found the jars in the picture at my local Michaels and I liked them because they had a more narrow mouth (which is easier for pouring into a teaspoon or tablespoon when you’re baking). If I was making it just for me, I might simply funnel it into an old store bought vanilla extract bottle. However, if you’re looking for something fancier, here are some of my ideas:
- Swing top bottles-no chance of losing the lid
- These bottles with a cork lid look fun, plus they’re small so you can gift to more people
- I’m always a fan of the amber glass bottle-it’s so pretty
- If you want a really tiny bottle, these blue glass eyedropper jars are adorable
- Not a jar, but these flask funnels will make getting your vanilla into your gifting jars much easier. I have a set and I use them for a bunch of things around the kitchen.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- 1 pint vodka go cheap
- 6 vanilla beans
- Slit the 6 vanilla beans down the middle and place in pint glass jar. Fill jar with vodka. Close lid tightly and store in a cool dark place for 3 months.
- After three months, you may want to dispense them in pretty jars…or not. I totally handed my friend a mason jar full of vanilla and it was cool.