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15th of November 2018


How to Make Vanilla Extract

The rate at which we consume vanilla extract in our house is a bit … excessive? But it enhances the flavors of so many foods that I enjoy: smoothies, matcha lattes, homemade whipped cream, eggnog, hot chocolate … the list goes on! I find myself adding a dash here, a glug there, and pretty soon, my bottle is used up!


Thank goodness for homemade vanilla extract. I can feel accomplished for making up a large batch, and somehow I don’t feel as bad putting it into everything I can think of. If you make it yourself it doesn’t count, right? Right.

Today I’d like to show you how to make vanilla extract at home. It’s a super simple process!


You need only 2 ingredients: vodka and vanilla beans. That’s really it! You can use rum or bourbon instead of vodka, but the flavors won’t be as clean. I used rum for a batch, and we didn’t like it very much. Ideally you want something with a high alcohol content (at least 35%) and a neutral or complementary flavor.


Let’s pause for a minute and talk about vanilla beans.

There are different varieties of vanilla beans. The three main types are Madagascar, Tahitian, and Mexican vanilla beans, but they are grown in other parts of the world as well. I personally like the flavor of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. Mexican vanilla beans have a very distinct flavor that I’m not fond of. But that’s just me.


In addition to varieties, there are also different grades of vanilla beans. Grade A beans are longer and more moist, and Grade B beans are less pretty and usually recommended for making extract. Grade B beans are less expensive, so if you’re trying to cut back on cost, definitely go for those.


Now we can get into the particulars of how to make vanilla extract!

Start by splitting your vanilla bean pods in half along their length. You can do this with scissors (my favorite method) …


… or with a knife.


If you want your vanilla bean pods to look pretty in a jar, you can leave a bit of the end uncut to keep it together. Or just chop right through them—it doesn’t make a difference in flavor!


If there are any vanilla beans stuck to your scissors or knife, make sure to put them in your jar. You don’t want to waste any of those lovely beans!


Now stick your sliced beans in a jar.

A note about jars: I like to save condiment and salad dressing jars because they tend to be a nice height for vanilla beans and are pretty easy to clean out and reuse. I highly recommend using jars that come with a plastic insert that slows down the pour of the liquid. Vinegar jars are usually a good bet for this.

If your jar is larger than 8 ounces, use more beans and alcohol so that the alcohol will cover the beans. Just remember this ratio: 6 vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol. So if your jar is 12 ounces, use 9 vanilla beans. If it’s 16 ounces, use 12 beans.


Pour your alcohol of choice on top. Make sure it covers the beans! If any are sticking out, you can cut them down to fit better.


A tall jar looks pretty, but you can totally make vanilla in a squat jar as well. Simply cut the beans down to size as well as splitting them in half lengthwise.


Again, cover with alcohol.


Now put a lid on the jar and give it a good shake. Store in a cool, dark spot and give it a shake every week or so (or whenever you remember).


As the vanilla extract sits, it will get darker. You want the beans to soak in the alcohol for at least 2 months before using it. The flavor will only get better with time.


Make up several batches of vanilla extract at once so you never have to wait for a batch to brew. If you’re organized enough, you can note how quickly you use up your vanilla and make a new batch 3 months before you run out.


If you’d like to make vanilla extract as a gift, don’t worry if it won’t be ready in time! Simply package it in a pretty bottle, tie some baker’s twine around the neck, and add a label that clearly states when the vanilla will be ready to be used. You can use sticker labels, or simply punch a hole in a label and tie it to the jar with ribbon or twine.

Are you a vanilla addict like I am? What do you like to sneak it into?


Homemade Vanilla Extract

October 21, 2018 0

Prep Time:5 MinutesDifficulty:EasyServings:1 Servings Ingredients 6 whole Vanilla Beans1 cup Vodka Instructions Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise with scissors or a knife. Leave a bit intact at the end if desired. Cut the beans down to fit the height of your jar if necessary.

Put the beans in an 8-ounce jar. Cover with alcohol. Screw the lid on and give it a good shake.

Place in a cool, dark place. Let sit for at least 2 months. The longer the vanilla sits, the stronger the flavor will be. While it's sitting, give the jar a shake every week, or as often as you can remember.

Erica Kastner of Buttered Side Up Erica

Hello! My name is Erica and I was born and raised in northern Minnesota. I've enjoyed being in the kitchen as far back as I can remember. I was so happy when my mom let me wash dishes for the first time when I was about 5 (I just wish I was still as enthusiastic). I was so proud to be allowed to knead bread dough when I was 8. And my mom would let me concoct my own recipes for deviled eggs, no supervision. When I was about 16, I became very interested in the nutritional aspect of food. I began experimenting with adapting recipes to make them healthier. After several failures, I was able to make meals and treats that my family loved. I wanted to share my successes with the world, and so I started my very first recipe blog. I have been blogging about my love for food ever since! Some random facts about me: I'm a shortie: a little over 5'2" tall. Foods that gross me out: watermelon, margarine, and mellow yellow. I broke my leg in a horse riding accident when I was 9. My favorite guilty pleasure late-night snack is cold cereal (with loads of cream). And finally, I was homeschooled for all of my education, and I loved it!

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