Nov 23, 2010

{make your own: vanilla extract}

make your own vanilla extract.

i have been selfish for the past few months & didn't want to share this recipe.
or idea.
or whatever you want to call it.
because i wanted to be able to give it to people & have them think that it was just an amazing, painstaking process for me to make this for them.

have you ever thought about making your own vanilla extract?
it is seriously the EASIEST thing to do.
it takes two minutes to prepare & then you just need to be patient while it ages.
yes. like a fine wine.

actually, when you make your own extract, the longer you have it around apparently, the better.

so i'm going to make this SO easy for you guys.

you will need:

get your vanilla beans here. there are a ton. its overwhelming. i know. i would suggest starting with 1/4 lb. of bourbon grade b vanilla beans.

trust me, ladies {and gents?} you will save yourself SO much time looking around for them if you just click on that little link. i searched for a good couple of hours for vanilla beans. these are great. & they are INCREDIBLY reasonable.

& the vodka you can get just anywhere. at an abc store if you are in NC. & don't even feel self-conscious about grabbing the largest bottle of vodka they have. even if it is larger than the entire middle of your body. & even if the sweet old woman ringing you up continues to give you glances that say 'oh my word, you must have had the worst day EVER.' aaanyways. moving on.

another note that will help you:
you will want to get grade B vanilla beans. i know, you would think you needed grade A because it sounds nicer. i actually didn't know this until after i ordered my beans, but thankfully i was being cheap that day & bought the B ones anyways. B is the best for extract. there is a reason for it, but i forget at the moment…

SO, once you have your vanilla beans, cut up about 6 beans into 1" pieces & put into a quart sized ball jar. add vodka until its about full.

put your jar in a cabinet or somewhere relatively dark & where it wont be moved around a ton. you can pull it out & give it a shake every day or so if you want.

here is the kicker, though…

your extract will have to age for about 2 months. it should be a dark amber color. after a few weeks, if you extract isn't looking dark enough, i would add another bean to it. so you're playing the patience game, BUT it is so worth it for delicious vanilla. it seriously makes all the difference in the world to have good vanilla in your baking :)

okay, i know, i'm making this long, but one more thing!
when your 2 {or so} months is up, you will want to discard your beans & strain your vanilla with a cheesecloth or something similar to get all of the little bean particles out of your vanilla. and voila! you now have enough extract to last you for the entire rest of your life!
or you can share it with friends, give as a gift, etc...



  1. I have 6 jars of this in my cupboard. It has 4 weeks left. :)

  2. you can feel free to make me some. B/c i don't use that much vanilla. ever.
    but i do want to make it now.

  3. That is funny Becky, mine has 3 or so weeks left and looks like I am making moonshine in my cabinet.
    I bought my vanilla beans at HHM and wish I would have bought them from the same place you did...

  4. oh my goodess. this is so perfect for gift giving. pretty your jar up all nice and label with maybe some cute washi tape?! all of my friends and I are very domestic. Baking and cooking happen to be an all time favorite past time of ours. This home made vanilla extract would be a perfect present for all of them.


  5. I have been wanting to do this for a while now--thank you for reminding me!! And I'm glad to hear it's super easy:)

  6. Thanks for this post, Mindy. I purchased beans two weeks ago at the site suggested, and they arrived two days ago. My kids and I just put two jars in our cupboard. Can't wait for the results!

  7. I've been making ours this way for years! It really is delicious and so much less expensive than those little bitty bottles. I don't even bother to strain it unless I'm siphoning off some for a lil gift. Anytime I've got a used, split vanilla bean I just toss it in the bottle I'm using. When the amount in the bottle goes down about 25%, I just top off the whole thing with more vodka. Endless supply!!

  8. I use Beth's method, just adding vodka as the extract level drops, occationally swapping with new beans. amazon sell beans in smaller amounts cheap if you just want to test this idea out.

    and here's why B instead of A grade:
    For the purposes of making vanilla extract, you want to use Grade B beans whenever possible, because Grade B beans have less water weight. You get more bean for the buck because you're not paying for water. This also means that less water ends up in your extract. With Grade A you pay for appearance, which doesn't matter. We get the same beans as Grade A, but at a fraction of the cost.