Making your own homemade vanilla extract is not only easy to do, but it smells and tastes wonderful, makes the perfect gift, and the beans can still be used once you’re done!
Bottled up, this homemade vanilla extract makes a perfect holiday gift for friends, family, neighbors and coworkers.
How could I not have heard of making my own homemade vanilla extract until I was the ripe old age of 34? I have no idea how this most clever and ingenious idea had never crossed my path before. Not until a fellow foodie co-worker of mine gave me a bottle at Christmas time. I opened up that four ounce amber Boston round glass bottle and a) couldn’t believe how wonderful that vanilla smelled and b) was even more impressed that they made it themselves. After a little research, I realized how easy it would be to make. The secret ingredient? Well, good quality vanilla beans is a given. But what really makes this vanilla sing is time. You will want to make this homemade vanilla extract. Take my word for it. If not to give away as gifts, but to at least use in your own cooking. I’ll tell you what I did below.
Here’s what I did to make the most incredible homemade vanilla extract. I’ll even do you a solid and will list it out in a simple recipe format below.
1. Buy 80 vanilla beans. For the batch shown in this post, I purchased a pound of Madagascar Vanilla Beans from OliveNation. One pound can have anywhere from 90-110 beans. I counted out 80 and used the remaining vanilla beans in my cooking throughout the year. Madagascar are the most common beans and are downright wonderful. For this year, I ordered Mexican Vanilla Beans from Beanilla. A more expensive option, but I thought it would be fun to try soaking the mysterious smokey cousin of last year’s bean. Results TBD.
2. Buy a glass gallon sized mason jar with a screw top lid. Of course you can take a few swigs of vodka straight from the bottle to create enough room to throw the beans in the liquor bottle, but where’s the fun in that? I drove 40 minutes across town to a total Portland hippie homestead supply store for my glass mason jar. It was totally worth it.
3. Buy two 750mL bottles of Vodka. I’ve heard the quality doesn’t make that much of a difference. I think I went with something in the low to low-mid range and my vanilla was wonderful. Someday when I’m rich and famous I’ll break out the good stuff for my vanilla, but until that day comes the cheap stuff will win.
4. Find a kid who likes to pour booze. Luckily, my (then four-year-old) foodie-in-training son didn’t shy away from large bottle of liquor and was able to empty both bottles without spilling a drop.
5. Shake and wait. Shake and wait. Shake and wait.
6. Buy a couple dozen 4oz amber Boston round glass bottles. Amazon is your friend.
7. Make friends with an awesome graphic designer who is willing to design and cut your labels in exchange for a bottle of vanilla.
8. BAM! You’ve just made something people will be begging to have. All those fantasies about being the popular kid can now come true.
Quite possibly the best thing about making your own homemade vanilla extract is being able to use all of the seeds when you’re done. You see, after you filter out all the extract, you’re left with that gooey black vanilla caviar that you can use in any recipe. You should see the last batch of vanilla bean cream cheese frosting I made. Mercy.
- 80 vanilla beans, pods split lengthwise
- 1500 milliliters vodka
- Split each pod lengthwise with a sharp paring knife, keeping the tip in tact and the seeds in the pod.
- Add split pods to clean empty gallon sized glass mason jar.
- Add vodka.
- Tightly screw on lid. Carefully shake contents of jar. Store in cool dark place.
- Shake contents of jar weekly.
- Allow 6-12 months for flavors to properly develop.
- Use fine mesh filter to separate the liquid from the solids. Use funnel to pour into 24 separate 4 ounce amber Boston Globe glass bottles.