Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

I finally did it.

I was nervous.

But I finally did it.

I walked into a liquor store! With my kids! Bought a half gallon of bourbon.

And no one batted an eye!

It was a breeze to make. Here’s how…

You will need:

This step was time-consuming, but the rest was easy, so… What you have to do is take a paring knife and slice through one side of the bean so you can open it and scrape out the “seeds” with a spoon.When you buy vanilla paste, this is what you find in it, so the seeds aren’t bad. It just depends whether you like your vanilla extract very clear or not. I did my best, and it took about 25 minutes to slice and scrape.

Then, you place the vanilla beans in your jar, top with bourbon (you can use vodka or rum), cap, and wait.

You will want to leave your vanilla extract (to be!) in a cool, dark corner of your cabinet or kitchen for about 8 weeks for best flavor.

When you use it, just spoon out what you need, and put the jar back in your cabinet. It can stay this way a very long time, and only gets richer with age :)

Check out the photo right above to the photo right below – see how much darker it is after 8 weeks?

I actually plan on taking a pint or so out for easier access, letting the rest age away.

I wonder how long it will take before I finish the jar. Hmm…..

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Lea Harris founded Nourishing Treasures in 2006. A mom passionate about her family's health and well-being, Lea believes education is power. Encouraging others to take baby steps in the right direction of health for their families, Lea's goal is to raise awareness of what goes into our mouths and on our bodies, providing natural alternative information that promotes health and prevents disease by using traditional foods and nature's medicine.

Lea is a Certified Health Coach graduate from Beyond Organic University, and a Certified Aromatherapist graduate from Aromahead Institute.

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Make Your Own Vanilla Extract — 25 Comments

  1. I use a lot of vanilla beans, so I keep a jar of vodka in the cabinet and any time I use the insides of a bean, I cut it up and stick it in the jar. Kind of like a continuous brew!

  2. Can you use any alcohol for this, or does something (other than flavor, obviously…i’m thinking strength of alcohol content, maybe) make some work better than others? I have a partial bottle of local mead that I feel would be delicious!

  3. I use vodka. I haven’t tried bourbon. I have never heard of removing the seeds! I usually just split the pods and put them into the bottle of booze and let it sit. Then when I need some “vanilla caviar” I retrieve a pod from the bottle, scrape them out and place back in the bottle. I have thought about dehydrating the pods and then pulverizing into a powder when they are dry. I love seeing the teensy black seeds in baked goods or ice cream.

    • I know, Starlene, and I’m with you. At first I thought they weren’t any good for us, but then I realized I’ve been buying vanilla bean paste, and that is full of the “seeds” – so I wasn’t too picky about getting every last seed out. I did save the seeds, too.

      That is a great idea – dehydrating the pods. If you do this, add the post to our 101 Dehydrator Recipes list!

  4. I also do this with vodka. I pour off a cup to use every few months and each time I add three beans sliced open and fill the bottle back up with vodka. It’s a continuous brew. I don’t remove the seeds either, just slice the bean and add it in. My vodka bottle is just about full of beans; I may just need a bigger liquor bottle!

  5. I’ve had my brew exactly a year this month. It’s delicious and never ends. I just top it off. I started w/ vodka but switched to rum, much richer taste. I also do not scrape the beans. I cut them with a tip left uncut. Put in jar, in a dark place and wala! Loving mine and I use it for everything. Everything. I also have enough to bottle up small portions for friends. That’s saying a lot for an expat. We can’t find it here, which is why I make my own.

    • I got beans from a supplier in PA who lists on ebay. Good deal. They sent an extract recipe that said to use 70 proof or higher. I see the vodka I bought was cheap diluted 42% proof. Since it is for Christmas gifts, I want it to be good. I’m going to try to exchange my vodka today for a higher proof. Maybe I’ll also get a bottle of rum and do two separate batches.

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