Thursday, August 25, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I'm on a "make-my-own" kick lately, thanks to Alicia at Alicia's Homemaking.
Today I made some more homemade ketchup. Delicious!
On Wednesday, I made whole-wheat bagels for the first time. Double-delicious!
Last week I made a batch of blueberry jam (triple-delicious!!).
And yesterday, I made vanilla extract.

"All -by-my-self," as my two-year-old would say.

Yes, I know I can buy it at Kroger or Wal-Mart, but vanilla extract--really good vanilla extract--is EXPENSIVE. We're talking $12 for a small 8-ounce bottle of Rodale's Gourmet Vanilla. That's $1.50 an ounce. Ouch! Plus, a fraction of that 8 ounces is water.

Of course you could buy the store brand or--dare I say it--imitation vanilla. But if you are a real cook or aspire to be a real cook (as I do), then you need to use the real-ly good stuff.

I'm here to tell you that you can make a 16-ounce jar of vanilla extract for under $15. That's double the amount of vanilla for only a few dollars more. Plus, if you use Swagbucks, you can use your free Amazon gift cards to buy the vanilla beans. {FYI: Swagbucks is a search engine like Google or Yahoo. By using it you earn points that are redeemable for really great prizes, my favorite being the $5 Amazon gift cards.}

Supplies (Cost in bold)

6 vanilla beans {I used these Madagascar beans} FREE with Swagbucks Amazon Gift Card
16-ounces of vodka {I bought the cheapest bottle I could find; top shelf is not necessary!} $10

16-ounce jar or bottle with lid
Kitchen scissors
  • Cut a slit lengthwise through the center of each vanilla bean. Leave 1-inch in tact on one end.
  • Place vanilla beans in the jar. Pour in 16-ounces of vodka.
  • Screw on lid tightly, and give it a little shake. Store in a cool, dark place for about 8 weeks. Shake jar once a week. {I "Sharpied" the date made on top as a reminder.}
  • After 8 weeks you will have real vanilla to use in all your favorite recipes.
If you try this recipe, let me know your thoughts. This is brand new to me, so I am learning too!


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  1. I was just talking to my mom about this the other day! I've heard of people making their own extract this way, and also heard of people making vanilla sugar by putting a vanilla bean in with sugar. This would also make a pretty awesome gift for the holidays as well! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh yes, this works wonderfully! This is how I always make vanilla now...I never buy it. I gave it as Christmas gifts last year. :)

  3. Bookmarking this! I have a sticky note to myself to get some going for Christmas gifts and you just provided me with the instructions. Thanks!
    What is the result on using it for cooking?

  4. I agree that this vanilla would make lovely Christmas gifts, especially in really cute glass jars with the stoppers. Here's to early Christmas presents!!

    As for cooking with it, just use the vanilla as you would regular store-bought vanilla. Because pieces of vanilla bean will leak out of the shells, you may want to strain it first but that's up to you. I've read straining it dilutes the flavor; however, if the sedimentation or texture bothers you, strain it!

    Also, you can continue using the vanilla beans even after the 8 weeks is up. From what I read, just keep pouring on the vodka until the vanilla isn't as strong as you'd like for it to be. Love that!

  5. I did this yesterday and am posting about it tomorrow! (my recipe is a tad different than yours though) So fun! I made a gallon though...for Christmas Presents--mine will sit for 4 months. Thanks for visiting my blog! Blessings to you, Amanda

  6. Lots of food adventures over at Alicia's this week. =p Yay for swagbucks saving you some money too.