Homemade Vanilla Extract

This recipe comes from my friend Beth, who bakes more than anyone else I know. She likes to make it b/c it is such a cost savings over buying quality vanilla extract in the quantity she needs to maintain her baking addiction. I like it because I like anything I can make myself. I like knowing how things are made and chipping away at my dependence upon packaged goods in pursuit of my inner Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  • 6-8 whole vanilla beans, cut into 2″ sections
  • 8 ounces vodka
  • 12-oz jelly jar with screw on lid

Add first two ingredients to jar, screw on lid. Label lid with the date. Really, that’s it. 

This is so embarrassingly simple it makes me wonder what other items I depend upon from stores when I could be making it myself. Like many good things, this requires waiting. The pickles might only take 3 weeks, but this one you need to set aside for 6 months. Basically you are allowing time for the vanilla flavor to be leached from the bean into the alcohol. Keep it in your cupboard and give the jar a gentle shake occasionally. Do this regularly in the first 2 weeks and then occasionally (every few weeks) after that. Start using once the 6-month mark has passed. Since it is 99%+ alcohol, this will basically have an indefinite shelf life. Pour into an empty existing extract bottle for easier dispensing.

Plan ahead a bit and make a larger batch, divide into small bottles, add a homemade label and you have tasty and unique homemade holiday gifts.

 This is my batch about 2 months after creating it. You can see that the upper half of the liquid is still lighter and has a ways to go before getting to a consistent dark color throughout.


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