There are a whole bunch of homemade vanilla extract recipes with all kinds of suggestions. After much vetting and experimenting, this is the one I use. Not only is this homemade vanilla extract fun to make, but it’s also a lot less expensive. I always make it in small batches, no more than 8 oz. per bottle. That way I always have a few fresh batches that are in different stages of infusion; all working towards perfection with one that’s finished and ready to use.
Vanilla Extract is one of the most important ingredients in many recipes. It can be quite expensive, so why not make your own. Because this Homemade Vanilla extract is so easy to make, I’ll often prepare many small bottles and give them away as a gift along with a few recipes. Now I ask you, what cook wouldn’t love that as a gift?
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Ingredients: Makes 2-8oz. bottles
Place 4 vanilla beans in each of the two cleaned bottles. Depending on your bottles, you may need to fold or cut your beans in half after splitting to fit them into your bottles. Use a funnel to pour 8oz. of Vodka into each bottle over the beans making sure the vanilla beans are completely covered. Clamp down the stopper to seal. Shake each bottle a bit to encourage the start of the extract.
Store the bottles of vanilla bean vodka mixture in a cool, dark, dry place for at least a month. In the first few weeks, shake the bottles a few times. After a month or so, it will take on a dark brown mahogany color. At this point taste the vanilla extract. If you desire a more intense flavor, let it infuse longer for a stronger vanilla extract.
Next remove the vanilla beans and reserve them for future uses. There will be a few seeds left in the homemade vanilla extract. If you prefer no residue in your new homemade vanilla extract, strain it through a double layer of cheesecloth and pour the clear liquid back into a new clean clamp down lidded bottle, seal, and label. Note: Many times I’ll take the beans out of one bottle and leave the vanilla beans in the other removing them at a later date. Regardless which way you prefer this homemade vanilla extract, it will keep indefinitely.
If you wish to preserve the spent vanilla beans, first rinse and let them dry thoroughly at room temperature. Store the dried beans in a small plastic bag or a small glass jar.
Suggested Uses For Reserved Beans:
- Vanilla Sugar: Bury one or two dried vanilla beans in your sugar canister. Leave it until the sugar is infused with a vanilla aroma.
- Vanilla Confectioners Sugar: Grind a few dried beans in a food processor. Stir the ground vanilla beans into 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar and leave it until it takes on a vanilla aroma. Sift the sugar to remove the vanilla grounds before using. Or if desired leave the sugar as is with the grounds.
- In Recipes: Save the beans to use in puddings, cookies, custards, etc.
- Vanilla Coffee: (I love this use). Grind the dried vanilla beans in a food processor. Place a tablespoon or more of the vanilla bean grounds on top of the fresh ground coffee in your filter. Stir just a bit to incorporate. As the hot water drips through the filter, it will infuse it with a fantastic vanilla flavor in your coffee.
Notes: Obviously you can double or triple this recipe. If you choose, you can make it in 4 oz. batches. I like to use a ratio of 1 to 2 vanilla beans per 2 ounces of vodka. I find that buying good quality vanilla beans in bulk is much less expensive and quite useful to have on hand for recipes when making my homemade vanilla extract. Look for supple beans whenever possible. If the vanilla beans are small then increase the number you use for the extract. I usually double them when that’s the case. A top shelf vodka isn’t necessary; a good medium grade works very well. Never worry about how long the vanilla beans remain in the vodka; the longer they stay in the vodka, the better and stronger the extract will be. You can use brandy or rum in place of vodka. However, it will change the flavor profile a bit. I prefer vodka for its neutral flavor profile providing a purer vanilla extract.
Isn’t this homemade vanilla extract the coolest thing ever? I love the fact that I can control the intensity of the extract. Never one to overlook an opportunity for making gifts from my kitchen, if I’m able to plan ahead, I’ll often make this as a gift for the many friends who are fanatics about vanilla. I love giving them a bottle of this homemade vanilla extract along with a few dried vanilla beans and a list of suggestions on how to use both.
Now I need to get back to my kitchen for more fantastic ideas and recipes.
Time to eat…
P.S. Take a moment to check out and purchase some of the tools I used for this “Homemade Vanilla Extract” below. 🙂