If you are the one that buys groceries, then you know how expensive good vanilla extract is at the store. I want to encourage you to make your own homemade vanilla extract today (if you don’t already) because it’s really cheap to do it yourself and it’s so much better than what you can find in stores. And with the holiday season coming up, now is the perfect time to get them started!
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Vanilla extract is one of those staple ingredients that goes well in a lot of cooking and is missed when you don’t add it. Cookies, cakes, pies, pancakes, coffee, hot apple cider, and many other recipes. And I’m a firm believer that you can never have too much vanilla extract in your pantry. I personally go through about two liters every year because of all the cooking I do around here. If I tried to purchase that amount from the store, it would cost hundreds of dollars.
Imitation vanilla extract is affordable but if you want the good stuff, it’s outrageous! And that’s if you can even find just two-ingredient vanilla extract. A lot of times there are other things added to those little bottles and it’s not just vanilla beans and alcohol.
But today I want to show you how to make almost two liters of your own homemade vanilla extract for just $35! Don’t worry if you don’t actually need that much extract. It’ll keep for forever in your pantry. Plus you can make several smaller jars and give them away as gifts!
Ingredients for Homemade Vanilla Extract
10 Madagascar vanilla beans – $12.95 with tax
1.75L glass bottle of vodka with 40% alcohol (also known as 80-proof) or higher – $22.25 with tax
And that’s it!
Instructions for Making Homemade Vanilla Extract
You’ll need your vanilla beans, a bottle of vodka, scissors, and a glass pint or half-pint jar with lid.
To make vanilla extract, I like to make a smaller pint or half-pint jar as well as use the glass vodka bottle for making extract. This is for two reasons. One, I like to keep a smaller jar in my working pantry and that’s what I pull out when I’m cooking. Two, if you try to add vanilla beans to the glass bottle of vodka, the alcohol will overflow! So it’s necessary to pour some of it out.
First, cut your vanilla beans in half lengthwise and then cut them in one-inch-long sections.
Add three of the cut vanilla beans to your pint or half-pint jar, then top with vodka. Put a lid on it and put it away for 3 to 4 months. If you walk past it, give it a shake, but that’s not necessary. It’ll turn into vanilla extract all on its own.
Then put the remaining vanilla beans in your larger glass vodka bottle. Shake it and store it away for 6 months.
Let your vanilla beans seep in the vodka for at least 3 to 6 months.
The color will turn from clear, to amber, and eventually to a dark brown color over time.
Let your nose tell you when your extract is ready. When it quits smelling like alcohol and smells like vanilla, that’s when it’s fully mature (although you can use it for baking even when it still smells a bit like alcohol).
Keep your smaller pint jar topped off with the extract from your larger vodka bottle.
It’s important to keep the vanilla beans covered with vodka/extract at all times to prevent the possibility of mold. Before the vanilla beans in the larger glass vodka bottle get exposed (because you’re using your vanilla extract in everything), add fresh, clear vodka to the top and start a new batch of vanilla extract.
I’ve noticed that the vanilla beans will stop being as productive over the years, so I add new vanilla beans every 2 years or so. (I never take the old beans out, though.) This step isn’t necessary because eventually the old beans WILL give you vanilla extract…it just takes longer.
Recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- 1 glass pint or half-pint jar with lid
- 10 Madagascar vanilla beans
- 1.75 L vodka
- Cut three vanilla beans in half lengthwise and then in one-inch sections. Place in your pint or half-pint mason jar. Then cover with vodka, add a lid, and store it away for 4 months.
- Cut the remaining vanilla beans in half lengthwise and then in one-inch sections. Place them in your vodka bottle, add the lid, and store it away for 6 months.
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Do you make your own extracts? Leave me a comment and let me know what you make!
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