Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Last week I accomplished one of my 101 goals: make my own vanilla extract. I've been wanting to do this for quite some time now but never got around to doing so, and since I do a lot of baking and plan on doing a ton of baking this spring/summer I figure it's only fitting to make my own extract now. After some searching on the internets I discovered that the recipe for making vanilla extract is pretty much the same across the board. This is how I made mine:

You'll need:
- Good quality vanilla beans
- Vodka or rum
- An airtight bottle, preferably a glass one
I got my vanilla beans at a local health store. I'm not sure how high quality they are, as they are the same brand that every grocery store I've been to in Victoria carries. The majority of websites I visited used vodka for their extracts so I decided to follow suit. The ratio for bean to vodka varies, but the consensus seems to be a cup of vodka per bean. I had made a really small bottle of a rum version but discovered too late that the cap was faulty, and so when it had somehow tipped over in the cupboard all the rum leaked out. Oh well, I have plenty of the vodka variety to last me pretty much forever. But one day I would like to try out the rum version just to see how much of a difference there is. I couldn't find a small bottle in the house so I decided to just re-use a wine bottle left over from Christmas celebrations. I figured since wine has to be kept airtight then it'll work for this little project. A lot of websites recommend using a mason jar but I don't have any unused ones on the house and didn't really want to buy a case just to use one jar.

Anyways, here's what I did:
Clean your bottle of choice very thoroughly and sterilize. Once your bottle is dried and ready to go, take the vanilla beans and slice the beans in half length-wise, leaving a good inch or two intact at one of the ends (so they look like wishbones). You can't tell in my photo below, but they really are sliced open.
Pop the beans into the bottle and pour in enough vodka to cover the beans completely. Store the bottle in a cool, dark place and shake every few days. After 6-8 weeks you've got vanilla extract ready to be used! VoilĂ !!

Over time the extract will get darker and more concentrated in flavor. The beauty of making your own extract is that when you are starting to get low all you have to do is add more vodka and vanilla beans and let sit for a few weeks until using again. You basically have a bottle of never ending vanilla extract! How sweet is that?? I added the month and year to my bottle label to see just how long my bottle lasts. I'm also thinking of adding another bean or two to my bottle, as I wouldn't mind having my extract super vanilla-y. And depending on how it works out, maybe transferring it to a smaller bottle. But we'll see. After the "brewing" time is up, I'll take another photo and show you guys how it panned out. I simply cannot wait to give my extract a try!

'Til then, happy baking y'all!!


  1. I might just have to try this! How fun! I use a TON of vanilla, too! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to hear how yours turns out!

  2. I'm totally intrigued! We go through SO MUCH vanilla, and my husband is picky and wants pure vanilla in the glass bottle, so maybe this is the way to go.

    How long does it take to be ready? How much were your vanilla beans?

  3. so what you're trying to say is that I should come over - for a drink... well, ok!

  4. Kim:
    I don't know if I can encourage the making of your own vanilla yet until I give mine a try...but I'm starting to get antsy cause I really want to know how it tastes! :p But I'll definitely let you know how it works out!

    I don't know how pure you can get vanilla than this. But it's definitely something to think about if you go through a lot of it! I'll let you know how it works out when mine is done brewing.

    As for the readiness of it, it takes 6-8 weeks for the vanilla to be ready for use. Of course, the longer you wait the more intense the flavor will be. So maybe in your case have 2 bottles on the go? My beans were $10 a tube, and each tube has 2 beans in it. I'm sure there are cheaper ones out there, but I'm not sure how good the quality would be? I'm going to assume you get what you pay for? If I see any other kinds of vanilla I'll let you know!

    Hahahahaa...you're so funny! When am I ever going to see you in person again???


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