Saturday, November 26, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract...

...don't do your holiday baking without it!  Ok well, it is a little late to be telling you that.  I mean, I should have posted this weeks ago, maybe months.  However, it is to easy, and cheap and delicious to not still do it for your regular baking or gift giving!!!

Since I am not a great baker, this has passed me by until a month or so ago.  I saw a random YouTube video on making your own vanilla extract.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven, have you bought REAL vanilla extract lately?  You may need to run to the bank for a loan first!  Your option or that, or buy some imitation, tastes like marshmallows stuff that is cheap and disgusting!

I researched this so long, I even asked some fellow foodie friends who had done it.  I was torn over the amount of beans to use, if I should use expensive vodka, or some, rot gut, not for human consumption type. You can watch 10 video's and read 20 articles or blogs and get that many opinions, so I went with what I hoped would work best, or my wallet hoped!!  Cheap vodka!  Whatever vodka you decide to use it must be 80 proof.  I got some glass decorative jars, and Madagascar vanilla beans!  There are different grades of beans.  Use extract grade beans, your choice of Madagascar or Tahitian!

Vanilla beans are very expensive.  In fact, in my grocery store they are almost 9.00 for one bean.  I went to E bay and was able to purchase a small package of 15 for .99 cents and 5.00 shipping.  Good deal no matter how you slice it.  I need to go order more and a larger quantity!  I bought a couple of jars at my local Hobby Lobby, which were on sale for half price.  Got them for 1.00 each.  I purchased the largest bottle of cheap vodka I could find, just under 10.00 at Walmart.  

The ratio is a craps shoot.  I am convinced.  I read and saw everything from 8 beans for 1/2 cup of vodka to 2 beans for one cup.  I went in the middle and went 4 beans, for each jar which held approx 3/4 to 1 cup of vodka.  I split the bean down the middle, scrapped out the seeds and put them in their respective jars, then cut the pods into 2-3 inch pieces and put in along with the beans.  Can I tell you the smell was AH-MAZING.  I filled them up with vodka, put their lids on and gave them a shake.  They need to be shaken about once a week, stored in a dark cool place and left to sit.  
The day they were made!

Here is the next game you can long?  Some say they can be used after 4-6 weeks.  Some say not for 6 months.  Some say use after 4-6 weeks but they reach their best at 6 months and after.  So it is up to you to decide.  Do your own research if you like.  I am going to use mine after 6 weeks a time or 2 and see how it is.  I will decide from there and let you know in the comments underneath how it turns out when that time comes.    I will be giving a few bottle as extra gifts on some of my cookies trays with a decorative tag saying something like, "use at your own risk"! :)  Nothing like getting a gift you can't use for 6 months right?  That is my great planning skills hard at work!

Here is what they look like now, after 5 days.

I cannot stand the wait, to see how this turns out.  Let me know if you have made it and how it turned out for you.  Did you use cheap vodka or expensive and did you go with Madagascar beans or Tahitian?  Please, share your secrets and make this, your wallet will thank you!!

Your "getting ready to bake some delicious goodies" chefwannabe


  1. I'm going to watch this.. I just bought vanilla beans off E Bay to do the same thing!!

  2. I just got vanilla beans today. It is so ironic you posted this because I needed the ratios. I bought four beans so I am going to do one cup ratio you mention above.

    It is also interesting that the beans are so expensive where you are. One of our local grocery stores (only here in Portland) has them for $1.19 a bean. So today I spent $4.76 and we don't have sales tax, not as cheap as yours, but I was able to get the locally. I cannot imagine having to pay $9 a piece for them. I am glad you were able to find a good provider online.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I am going to get mine started tomorrow. I have purchased my last $8 single ounce bottle of the stuff!

  3. Awesome that you both can use it! Amen to no more buying it so expensively!!

  4. I have made it in the past since one of my [former] patient's family always gave a bottle of some kind of alcohol for the holidays and I don't drink the hard stuff ;o) I just shoved the beans in the bottle and I learned that I should have used more beans for the full bottle and split them instead of cutting them.

    If you have access to inexpensive beans, put more in; it will be like Penzey's Double strength vanilla - you can use less or not.

  5. Congratulations. Your's looks great too.

  6. Home made vanilla is the greatest ever! I have made it for many years now. I ordered some of the small bottles online in bulk so I could always give as a gift. I label the bottles or you can create homemade stickers or tags. they make a very special gift. I never use my vanilla until it is at least 6 months old. And before using ALWAYS shake the bottle or glass first!

    Special note: You can include a note on your tag or sticker that they can "refresh" the vanilla so they NEVER have to EVER buy it again! When their bottle gets to 1/2 way (never less) they can add vodka to the bottle, and the vanilla will resume the process.

    To make sure this process happens properly, I always include extra pieces of vanilla bean in each bottle.

    1. All excellent ideas! Yes I do refresh mine as well!! I still have some beans left, I need to go get a whole bottle of vodka and get the beans in it. The vanilla I used this Christmas is 13 months old, it is perfection! Thanks for your ideas and input!!