Homemade Vanilla Extract

Posted on 18 September 2010

Whenever I have to buy vanilla extract, which is fairly often given the amount of recipes I make containing vanilla extract, I always balk the price… Really I say? Ten dollars for two fluid ounces of something as simple as vanilla?? I understand that a lot of work goes into sourcing the right beans, finding the correct depth of flavor, adding a touch of sugar to make it a little more palatable. (*Personally I do not like extract companies adding simple syrup to their vanilla extract. Even if the extract is going straight into a sweetened cake, I would like to be the person who is adding the sugar to my desserts.) Which is why I have been resigned to pay ten dollars each time I wanted four tablespoon of extract… until now! No longer shall I be at the mercy of these extortionists! I am taking matters into my own hands. That’s right. We are about to make our own vanilla extract!

It could not be simpler (I am aware I say that a lot but really it usually can’t be any simpler), pour vodka on vanilla beans. Let sit for a couple of months, voila – extract! I use a fair amount of seeds and always keep the stripped pod. I always thought I may make extract or sugar or liquor but never had a real plan until I decided I just needed to do it. I had run out of vanilla extract for the last time. One of the best things about making your own is the fact that you need to run out again. You can truly find the spring over everlasting extract. Whenever you begin to get low, add some more vodka, shake it up and allow the beans to steep in the vodka and age.

One common myth about vanilla extract is that it is made with whiskey, more specifically bourbon. This is not the case. The reason some of the higher end extracts are named Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla is down to the Bourbon Islands off the coast of Madagascar where lots of vanilla is grown.

Notes: The recipe below is more of a ratio, so if you want to make a quart of extract just quadruple the recipe, if you want half a cup halve the recipe.

I used a mixture of whole vanilla beans, split almost completely lengthwise down the center so that it looks like a wishbone, and other beans which I have scraped the seeds out and saved the pod.

Vanilla Extract, makes 1 cup
1 cup vodka
3 vanilla beans, (see Notes above)

1. Place split vanilla beans into a sealable container. Pour over vodka until the beans are completely covered. Seal until bottle or jar is airtight. Shake vigorously occasionally and store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months until the extract is a deep, warm golden caramel color.

2. See I told you it couldn’t be simpler! One more step you can take if you want to, is when you are ready to pour the extract into smaller bottles you could strain it.


3 responses to Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • Danny says:

    Been making my own for a few years now, if one bakes alot, it really cuts the expense down! My next batch I am thinking of boiling it down for a bit to remove some of the alcohol flavor and also to intensify the liquid.

  • Vienna says:

    Hi Danny, Thank you so much for checking out my little blog! I think boiling down the liquid is a great idea if you don’t think the flavor is as concentrated as you would like. I’m going to make adjustments to mine if I need to – I read that adding a splash of dark rum at the end helps to round out the flavors and bring up the sweetness but that probably help with the alcohol level! :) Thank you again for commenting, hope you come back soon! Vienna

  • […] Ron Ben Israel’s Vanilla Cake, modified from NYC Cake Girl 1 ¾ cups sifted cake flour 2 cups sugar ¾ tsp fine salt 2 ½ tsp baking powder 8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature ½ cup whole milk (separated) 3 egg whites 1 tsp vanilla extract […]

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