How to Make your Own — Homemade Vanilla Extract

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Homemade Vanilla ExtractHow to Make your Own — Homemade Vanilla Extract

Never Buy Vanilla Extract Again  and make it Gluten Free if you choose

Everything you need to make your own Vanilla Extract is in the picture.
Except a little bit of patience, of course.

Two ingredients, a knife and time.  That’s it.  You can make vanilla extract for using in your kitchen or giving for gifts.  Everybody loves pure vanilla extract.

Vanilla Extract is one more item that you can strike from your grocery shopping list.  Of course, you will have to have a couple of items on hand that aren’t usually just sitting in the pantry.  You will need Vanilla Beans, and Vodka (bourbon, rum, or brandy will work as well).  OK, so you don’t have those items on hand, that’s okay, just go ahead and get your Vanilla Beans and your Vodka whenever you can. Even though you can put it together in just a few minutes you can’t enjoy if for at least a couple of months but, it will be well worth the wait.

Why would you want to make your own Vanilla Extract?
1.  You can remove that from your shopping list, and never run out again as long as you keep it going.
2.  You will know you have a high quality product and you will know what’s in the bottle.  No corn syrup in your vanilla extract.  What?  Corn Syrup in your vanilla?  Yep, in several spice island vanilla extract with red circlevanilla flavoring shows corn syrup circled in redbrands you will find just that, along with other chemicals and chemical compounds that you either don’t want, or you don’t even know what they are.

3. Also, if you are trying to stay away from gluten, you will find most vanilla extract does have gluten because it is made with a grain alcohol.  But you can make yours without grain, so no gluten in your vanilla extract.

4.  It will cost less in the long run.

Cost:  I’m all about being frugal, so I always ask;
Will the cost be less if I make my own?
Even if it is less, will it be worth my time?
If it doesn’t cost less, will the better quality be worth the expense?

The comparisons for the cost of your Homemade Vanilla Extract will be hard to make because there are so many brands on every store shelf. You can get the really cheap stuff, (usually flavoring, not extract) or you can get the really expensive stuff.  I have found that middle of the road Vanilla Extract will cost about $4.00 per ounce.  At that price, I would have paid $96.00 for the 24 ounces of Homemade Vanilla Extract that I made.  Instead, I made it for a final cost of $20.74.
I paid $7.95 for 10 high quality vanilla beans, and I paid $12.79 for 750 ml of Vodka for a  grand total of $20.74.   I did add two other vanilla beans to the mix that I already had in the pantry.  So, still under $25.00 for the whole bottle, and it doesn’t contain any corn syrup or other unknown ingredients.

General rule to making your own Vanilla Extract is that you will need
4 Vanilla Beans per 8 ounces of Alcohol.
That’s really all there is to it.  So, you can do the math and make a cup or a gallon.  It’s completely up to you.

cutting vanilla beansSo, Let’s just make our own
Vanilla Extract
Lay those lovely dark vanilla beans on a cutting board covered with paper towels or waxed paper.  Slit them end to end except about an inch from each end, don’t cut all the way through. Then you can cut them in half to make them shorter, and just drop them in the bottle of vodka.  If you are making yours in a small jar, you just want to make sure you cut the beans short enough that they are covered with liquid.

homemade vanilla extract day 1For my Homemade Vanilla Extract
750 ml = 25.4 ounces  (I only used 24 ounces, because you need a little room in the bottle to add your vanilla beans)
4 vanilla beans for each 8 ounces of vodka = 12 Vanilla Beans

You can make a little as you want by just putting your 8 ounces of vodka and 4 vanilla beans in any jar.

You are done making your Vanilla Extract, but now you have to wait for at least 8 weeks to use it.  The longer you wait the better it will be.  Store in a cool dark place, and give it a gentle shake about once a week for the first few weeks.  As you use it you can top off the bottle a little at a time, and you can add 1 vanilla bean at a time to keep your bottle going strong for years.

Side note:  this makes great gifts too, a cute little bottle, a nice little ribbon and label, and you have a very nice homemade gift.  Go ahead and make up a couple big bottles in the summer time, and when Christmas comes around bottle it in cute little bottles for gifts.

Vanilla Beans—use high quality Vanilla Beans from a reputable dealer.  Go for Fair Trade and Organic and you can still get a good deal on them from several places on-line.  I like to use Olive Nation

Your choice of Vodka, Bourbon, Rum, or Brandy—  needs to be a minimum of 35% alcohol, or 75 proof.  Vodka seems to be the most used alcohol for this.  I used 40% (80 proof) Potato Vodka  —— You can use grain or potato vodka.  I used potato because potatoes are gluten-free.  I do not observe a gluten-free diet, but it’s just one of those items that I say why add it if  I can have the same quality without it, and if you plan to give it as gifts you may want to use gluten-free.  You do not have to go for the high shelf expensive stuff.

Since I am not a connoisseur of alcohol I asked the nice guy working at the local ABC store for his recommendation.  I’m old enough to be that guy’s mother, but for some silly reason I felt compelled to explain to him what I planned to do with that bottle of vodka.  Yeah, I know, like he cared.  Actually, he first looked at me like he was thinking, yeah, lady, and all the prisoners at the state penitentiary are innocent too.  Just get your bottle and don’t drink while you drive.  But, then, since it was a slow day at the store, we got into a nice conversation about the use of alcohol in recipes and I found out that he’s quite a grill master and uses a lot of different alcohols in his recipes.  I went with his recommendation, which was potato vodka because it’s gluten-free and he said it has a smooth flavor and works well with all recipes.  So, there you have it, straight from the young grill master at the ABC store.

Some bottles were $35.00  some were $8.00.  The one he recommended for my use was $12.79.

There is a Difference in Extracts and Flavorings   —  a different post for a different day 🙂

If you make your own Vanilla Extract, please share your experience with us.
If you make any of your own groceries, please share with us.
thank you for spending time



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About Debra

Hey Y'all, I'm Debra, Southern but not a Charmer - A little bit opinionated, a little bit stubborn, a little bit strong willed, and a little bit witty. Homemaker & Homeschooler - Enjoys Cooking and Crafting but not Cleaning - Never enough time to do it all - Gotta have Coffee, Chocolate, Good Books, Flipflops, and the occasional Sweet Tea- Runner Wannabe - Finding and claiming balance between healthier options for home and body, but not being a slave to those choices. Lover and Follower of Jesus, it's a relationship not a religion.
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2 Responses to How to Make your Own — Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. Jebbica says:

    Have you ever heard of running vodka through a water filter pitcher, and it basically makes cheap vodka into the same thing as more expensive vodka? I wonder if it would be beneficial to do that for this process, or if it matters at all?

    • Debra Debra says:

      No, I have never heard of that. I don’t know if would be beneficial or not, but probably couldn’t hurt. I may have to just give that a try.

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