I was absolutely fascinated when I came across tutorials for how to make homemade vanilla extract. It looked so easy! And frankly, the cost of pure vanilla extract is enough to make anybody wonder how they can make homemade vanilla extract. Have you priced that stuff lately? Eeek!
Well, I’m delighted to report it wasn’t very hard at all. My first batch is well underway and I’ve even started using it. It’s delicious.
You Too, Can Make Homemade Vanilla Extract!
It’s seriously easy.
Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
- Decorative Bottles
- 3 - 5 Grade B Vanilla Beans per bottle
- Clear Vodka or Bourbon
- Cut off the ends of your vanilla beans. You can also cut them in half lengthwise if it makes them easier to fit into your bottle.
- Stuff the cut vanilla beans into your bottle.
- Fill the bottle up most of the way with alcohol and cork up (or put the lid on).
- Shake it! Shake it good!
- Let the beans steep for a month to a year, shaking it up regularly. (The more beans and shaking, the shorter the wait.)
- Yum! You have vanilla extract!
"Grade B" vanilla beans are less moist (and often less expensive) than Grade A beans, which makes them preferable for extract since you want them to soak up the alcohol. Grade A vanilla beans are better for cooking.
By cutting off just the ends, you now have soaked beans that you can pull out and use as vanilla paste, squeezing out the vanilla goo that resides therein.
You can top off your extract with more alcohol and fresh vanilla beans as needed. Since you're using alcohol, it will last more or less forever. Yay, alcohol!
The right bottle here was made with bourbon, the middle one with vodka, and the left one with half of each. Within about a week, the only way to distinguish between them was the smell of the extract. I made this homemade vanilla extract maybe a month and an half ago? And made sure I had plenty of beans in each bottle so I wouldn’t have to wait so long. I cut most of my beans in half, but left a few full-length beans in there for easy access in case I wanted some for cooking. It also looks pretty, I think.
Bonus Project: I took those unused vanilla bean ends and let them dry out over several days and then ground them up (in a magic bullet, although a coffee grinder or even a food processor would work just fine). Add in some Erythritol, and boom–Vanilla “sugar!” Tastes great in coffee or nice for baking. Just make sure you grind the beans to a powder first; I made the mistake of not grinding them enough so now I get vanilla bean chunks in the bottom of my coffee. Oops! Probably should do another round of grind on ’em but it’s still darned tasty (and makes a mean whipped cream, too).
Have you made any homemade vanilla extract? How did yours come out?