Who says life is boring if it’s vanilla. Frankly, vanilla is a pretty nice flavor. So I decided to make my own.

A few friends went in on bulk vanilla bean buy a few weeks ago, and I finally got around to making my vanilla extract. Here’s how you do it.

1. Start with some good Bourbon Vanilla Beans. You can also use Tahitian Vanilla Beans or whatever else you can get your hands on. Too bad they don’t have Smell-o-blogs so I could give you a whiff of how great my kitchen smelled today.

Vanilla Beans

2. Split the beans down the middle with a knife, except for the last inch so they stay intact.

Split Vanilla Beans

All those moist seeds inside, plus the outer pod, are what make the yummy vanilla taste.

Split Vanilla bean closeup

3. Pour vodka into the bottle with the beans at a ratio of 6 beans to two cups of vodka. Hedge suggested adding a tablespoon of rum to make it a tad sweeter. You can also use brandy or rum instead of the vodka. Remember, all extracts retain their flavor because they’re preserved in alcohol.

Pouring vodka into vanilla beans

4. Cap off and store in a dark place for 6 to 8 weeks. The darker the liquid, the strong the vanilla taste.

Bottled Vanilla beans

Just a few hours after I bottled the vanilla it was the color of weak tea. There’s a batch of chocolate chips make with this extract waiting for me in mid-June (if I can wait that long).

This really is as easy as it sounds, which probably leaves you wondering, “Why haven’t I tried this?” A bottle of vanilla can be pricey. And so can the beans. A local grocery store sells beans for about $5 for a package of 2. Find a good place online to order in bulk, and you can get beans for less than a dollar a piece. Keep in mind that a pound of vanilla beans equals about 100 pods, so sharing is good.

By the way, this bottle held a double batch of 4 cups of vodka and 12 beans. If you don’t put in enough beans, you end up with vanilla vodka instead of vanilla extract. Either way, you win!

******Update: My vanilla is dark, dark, dark and it looks great. I can’t wait to bottle it and give it as gifts to everyone! ******

7 thoughts on “Vanilla

  1. That looks great. I thought you might like to know I made vanilla shortbread with some of those beans and used the spent beanpods to make more vanilla sugar, which I was running out of.

  2. Vanilla shortbread sounds delicious. What do you use the vanilla sugar for?

    NOTE: Carrie responded: All kinds of things. In the case of the shortbread, after it comes out of the oven and cools slightly you dip it in the sugar and cover it and then let it cool complete on a rack; because it’s hot, it sticks to it. You can substitute it for regular sugar in baking recipes where you want the sweetness more pronounced, or a vanilla flavor pronounced, like a vanilla pound cake. In the wintertime, I use vanilla sugar (along with cinnamon) on my oatmeal. It’s great on sliced fresh fruit (strawberries especially, and peaches) and a little bit of ice cream, it’s also great in tea and coffee…. I could go on and on….

  3. Great question, OutlawQuilter (love your name, by the way!). You can continue adding vodka to the beans until you’ve completely depleted their flavor. I don’t know how many times you can refill the vodka, though. I’ll have to experiment and find out.

  4. Pingback: Homemade Vanilla « Heidi’s Blog

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