Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I saw this post last year on Design Mom's blog and thought, "What a great gift idea." But, you really have to plan ahead so it didn't happen last year. I put a reminder on my calender for August to start working on it for this Christmas and my timing paid off. I researched several sites online about making homemade vanilla and took advice from several different sites. The best tips came from the Instructables site. I bought all of my supplies in August. I bought my vanilla beans off eBay. They had better prices than many of the vanilla sites I looked at and even Amazon. Madagasgar, Grade B seemed to be the fav among extract makers as their moisture content is low thus giving a stronger flavor. I bought 8 ounce amber bottles from and I bought Smirnoff vodka at Sam's club.

Ingredients: vanilla beans, simple!
Slice your beans lengthwise then scrape out the pulp with a dull knife.
You can just add the pulp but I decided to chop up the remains of the beans and throw them in as well.
I mixed them up in quart sized jars as everything I read noted that "brewing" smaller batches yielded more flavorful results. It would make more sense just to dump the beans into the vodka bottle but I didn't want to take any chances. I saw many, many different "recipes" for vanilla to vodka ratios. I used about 18 beans per quart jar and that worked for me.
After a good shake. I shook them every day for two weeks then I tapered it off to about once a week and then about once every two weeks. They need to be stored in a cool, dark place and my basement was perfect for that.
Three months later. I read that you can let it brew anywhere from six weeks on but these sat for fifteen.
I strained mine before I poured it into the bottles. You can leave the pieces but it's a little nicer to have a "clean" product when giving it as a gift. For myself, I'd just leave the bits in there to continue extracting the flavor. Don't forget to sterilize your jars or bottles before you fill them!
I designed labels on the computer then had them printed on label paper so I could cut them the size I wanted.
The final product. I'll definitely be doing this again. It's so much less stressful than baking for a week since most of the work is done early and I like to give something a little more original. And it's much yummier than store bought extract!
I gave them out to my neighbors, a few friends and my family. The out-of-town family and friends missed out since they're fragile, liquid and flammable. The USPS wouldn't be too happy with me trying to mail these.

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  1. This is amazing! We may be doing this next year... Looks like you made a ton! I'm sure it's delicious!

  2. That is just awesome!!! How did you feel buying a bunch of vodka? :) Friends in Ohio just might also be getting this...

  3. Yeah, I wanna know how you bought all that Vodka? :) I just know my face would be majorly red! HAHA
    I found the boys ties at Childrens Place forever ago. Trenton is actually wearing Travis' old mission tie. It's not exactly the same pattern, but it worked.

  4. How did everyone like the vanilla? I am having a Christmas ornament exchange at my house and this would be perfect little gifts to everyone.

  5. I put a reminder on my calender for August to start working on it for this Christmas and my timing paid off. novelty gifts

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