I’m sharing how to make vanilla extract at home, and it only requires two ingredients. Making homemade vanilla is easier than you think!
We go through a lot of vanilla extract around here. Caroline is our baker in the house, and she’s always baking some cupcake, bar or cookie, all using vanilla extract. But, not just for baking; we add it to custards, French toast mix, whipped cream and even meringue. Heck, I’ve even added vanilla to a chicken dish that seemed a little odd, but it worked. Twas good.
I prefer a certain kind of vanilla extract. You know me, I have done my taste testing. Some varieties tasted a little metallic. Some tasted too sugar-y, and some didn’t even taste like vanilla at all. So, that’s how I landed on this brand. However, the caveat to this kind, is that it’s a bit on the expensive side. And, since we seem to go through vanilla like salt through a goose around here, it gets tiring shelling out the dough. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not much, but you get my drift. Sometimes when I’m shopping the food section of Homegoods or Marshall’s, I’ll luck out and find a bottle or two at their discounted price. When this happens, I try to stock up.
With all this buying and searching for vanilla extract deals, I thought to myself – why don’t I just make my own? How hard can it be? I’ve got to make this key ingredient work in our favor, cost-wise. I need the most bang for the buck. And, it needs to taste as good or even better than what I buy in the store.
Truth is, it’s not difficult at all to make. After looking at several recipes, they all state the same two ingredients; vodka and vanilla beans. The photo above is only a day in, in the infusion process.
Here are a few of my notes when making vanilla extract at home:
- No need for top of the line vodka. I used Smirnoff and it proved to be great. It’s affordable and reliable for smooth flavor, etc. This is what the guy recommended from the liquor store, and it was a good one.
- High quality vanilla beans from Madagascar are a must. This is the star of the show here. Don’t skimp on the beans.
- Also, do not skimp on the timeframe of the infusion process. Delicious vanilla extract takes time. Good things come to those who wait, and besides, it’s only a month.
- Make sure you store in a darker place. Important.
To make homemade vanilla extract, it does require between 10-12 whole vanilla beans. However, the best part is, is that once the extract is completely infused and bottled into individual bottles, you can just add more vodka to those original beans, and start the process all over again. The beans can even be used in baking – slice down the center and scrape out the seeds. Just keep adding more vodka and beans as needed, keeping the beans covered, and you’re good to go for the long haul. Gift that keeps on giving. Vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf life.
Now that I have my two ingredients on hand, it was time to start infusing. You’ll need a large jar, 1.5 liters at least. I used this one.
You’ll need a fifth of vodka. (I recommend Smirnoff)
And you’ll need the vanilla beans.
Amber bottles for storing
Starting with a clean jar, place vanilla beans inside, then pour in the entire fifth of vodka, covering the beans completely. Store in a darker place at room temperature for at least one month, until the vodka becomes vanilla extract. Once fully infused, funnel into small dark bottles.
Which brings me to another interesting tidbit of vanilla extract information: I was curious why it’s always stored in dark bottles. Reason being is that light dries out vanilla beans. Storing the extract in dark bottles keeps this from happening. So, dark bottles it is.
And that is how to make vanilla extract at home. To me, this homemade vanilla extract tastes even better than the store bought stuff. Please do take my word for it. Makes for a great gift, too, and not just for Christmas, but to anyone for any occasion. The best part is, you can make it yourself, and knowing that the shelf life is indefinite.
This post contains affiliate links.