Saturday, December 20, 2014

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract couldn't be easier!  
All you need are two ingredients...vanilla beans and alcohol.


Pure homemade vanilla extract smells heavenly...
adds intense flavour to baked goods...
and makes a fun little gift from the kitchen.



  • 12 Vanilla Beans 
  • 2 cups vodka 
 Rule of thumb ~ use six beans per 1 cup of alcohol.  (Never less.  More is better!)

Directions:
  1. Split each bean in half lengthwise using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.  Leave an inch connected at each end of the bean.  (Just because.  For looks!)
  2. Place the beans in a clean jar.  Cover them with vodka to submerge completely.  Place the lid on the jar and give it a little shake.
  3. Put the date on the lid...just so you know how long it has been steeping.
  4. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for several months.  Shake occasionally.The longer you wait, the richer it is.
  5. Strain the infusion through a coffee filter to remove the flecks of seed.  Or, leave them if you prefer.
  6. Decant the extract into pretty bottles for gift-giving...using a funnel.
  7. Add more vodka to the 'spent' vanilla beans in the jar and make more vanilla!  Eventually the beans will need to be replaced...once all the flavour has been extracted.  I left the 'used' beans in the jar and added fresh ones as well.
Vanilla happens to be among the most expensive spices, since growing the seed pods is very labour intensive.  I ordered Madagascar beans on-line.  As for the vodka, I used the least expensive kind I could find.   Vodka is the preferred alcohol since it is virtually flavourless.

And that is the synopsis of my first foray into making vanilla extract.  The vanilla has been packaged and gifted...and the next batch is steeping in a dark corner of my pantry.  I thought I would share my experience with you now...to give you plenty of time to get your vanilla extract production going before next year's gift-giving season is upon us.


21 comments:

  1. Thank you Judy. I do have a question as to what size jar do you think i will need to fit 6 van. beans and 1 cup of vodka, to completely cover the beans? What size do you recommend to make two batches with the 12 beans and 2 cups of vodka?

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    1. The beans are about the height of the mason jars I used...and for that reason I used 15 beans per jar with 2.5 cups alcohol. If you want to use a small 1 cup container, chop the vanilla beans into small pieces, put them in the jar then add your cup of alcohol.

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    2. Thank you Judy, that is very helpful! ((: - Marie

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  2. This is great Judy. We were just watching a CBC documentary last night about how vanilla is grown in Mexico where it was originally found by the early explorers. This makes a wonderful gift and you've presented it so beautifully.

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  3. Thank you Judy. So going to make some. Where is the best place to buy vanilla beans in the Fraser Valley, they are pretty expensive. How long does the homemade Vanilla last before it expires?

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    1. I have not purchased vanilla beans locally, so am not sure where they are best purchased. Pure vanilla extract lasts indefinitely. It is best stored in a cool, dark place in order to retain optimum flavour.

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  4. Love how you bottled your gifts. Can you please share where you got your bottles, Thanks so much.

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    1. I ordered my bottles on-line and don't recall the exact site...but think it was Specialty Bottle (http://www.specialtybottle.com/).

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    2. Thanks Judy. Much appreciated. Merry Christmas.

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  5. I was one who was gifted with one of Judy's lovely little bottles and the extract does smell heavenly. I tried making my own vanilla a couple of years ago and mine was not as sweet smelling or intense as Judy's. I think the vanilla beans must make a difference - I bought mine at my local grocery store and I will not buy them there again.

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  6. Judy, how beautiful! I don't know anyone would wouldn't love to unwrap this :)

    Blessings to All,
    Anna (Toronto)

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  7. A very nice gift to give and to receive. Who wouldn't love a bottle of real vanilla? You can also dry the spent pods and then grind them to add more flavour to goods. Leave the pods in a cooling oven (after some baking has been done) until very dry; this may take a few tries. Then use a coffee grinder to turn them to powder that can be used in baking and in flavouring frostings, puddings, cream, etc.

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  8. I actually just made this last week, after seeing numerous recipes on the internet. It's down in the basement, and I can hardly wait until it's ready to use. I had hoped to gift some as gifts for Christmas, but got started a bit late. I'm also hoping to try almond extract (using raw almonds) and mint extract (using mint leaves from my garden) Home made things are the best, in my opinion!

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  9. Is 1 tsp of homemade vanilla equivalent to 1 tsp of store bought vanilla in a recipe?

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  10. Judy any particular brand of madagascar vanilla bean that you buy over the internet?

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    1. Sorry, I can't recall which particular company I ordered from.

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  11. I've been making my own for a few years now. I love it, and I gifted it last year. I've made lemon extract too.

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  12. My niece made vanilla extract to give as wedding favors and I was there to help bottle it before the wedding. My sister was going to throw away the pods, but they still seemed quite strongly flavored so I took them. I froze them and have been using them in recipes with great success, especially in my granola where I scrape the beans from the pods and mix it into my liquids before stirring to coat my oat mixture. Double the use of anything makes my thrifty heart happy!

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  13. Could you let me know what you would consider the minimum amount of months it needs to steep? Thanks!

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    1. I would think two or three months would be the minimum (so my instructions told me)...but I actually left mine for more than six months before bottling the vanilla.

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