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Making homemade vanilla extract

About 15 months ago now, we embarked on a new "make our own" adventure: Vanilla Extract!

Making homemade vanilla extract is simple, and can save significant money long-term, especially if you do a lot of baking!

To start, you will need some vanilla beans and some vodka.

About vanilla beans:

We first looked for vanilla beans at our local stores, but the prices were very high -- about $5 per bean. I knew we wouldn't save any money if we spent that much on the beans!

We also weren't sure how fresh they would be. Vanilla beans should be soft and pliable. The ones in the store looked ancient, and were in a little plastic case so we couldn't feel them.

We purchased our vanilla beans on Amazon.com. We bought these Premium Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Beans - 1 lb. - Approx. 108 beans although we got the 1/2-lb package. The seller also has even smaller packages, but of course the price per bean goes up.

We were very pleased with the vanilla beans. Besides being the cheapest we could find, the beans were high-quality: very fragrant and pliable. The beans had a fermented sort of smell to them; real vanilla beans have a very rich smell that I love! :)

We had some leftover vanilla beans after making our vanilla extract, so we have been able to use them in cheesecakes. Another use is to stick a vanilla bean in some sugar to make vanilla sugar! I haven't tried that yet though. :)

If you order vanilla beans, first decide how much vanilla extract you wish to make (recipe below) and then calculate how many beans you will need. The vanilla beans we bought were sold by weight, but the seller listed an approximate number of beans for the weight.

About vodka:

We made a trip (our first and only!) to the liquor store for this ingredient. We were in search of 80-proof (40% alcohol) vodka. There were many, many choices. We had heard good reviews of Smirnoff's Triple Distilled Vodka, so we got a bottle of that. We also tried a cheaper one, Kamchatka. Honestly, both made very good vanilla in our opinion!

Homemade Vanilla Extract: Small and Easy

Ingredients:

2 vanilla beans
12 ounces (1.5 cups) 80-proof vodka

Directions:

1. Slice vanilla beans length-wise and scrape out the seeds. Cut pods into 1-2 inch pieces.

2. Place pods and seeds into a pint (2-cup) glass jar. Add vodka.

3. Seal jar (we used a canning lid and ring) and shake vigorously.

4. Label jar with the date and contents (unless you have a better memory than we do!). Start date: Today's date. End date: Six months from now.

5. Place jar in a cupboard or some place away from sunlight.

6. Shake jar once a day for a week, and then once a week for a couple of months, and then once a month (or whenever you think about it).

When 6 months have lapsed, your vanilla extract should be nice and strong and you can start using it! I know, 6 months seems like a very long time. But start it soon -- and it'll be done before you know it! :)

After 6 months you can also strain out the extract, leave any seeds/pods in the jar, add more vodka, and make a second batch with the same pods. The second batch may take even longer to become the same strength, but if you have even a small spot in your cupboard to spare, it's worth using again!


(Our finished small jar of vanilla extract. This amount of vanilla extract would cost at least $12.00 from Aldi's -- and ours smells way better than theirs!)

Homemade Vanilla Extract: Big and Strong

Ingredients:

21 vanilla beans (approximately 1/4-pound of beans)
1.75 liters 80-proof vodka

Directions:

1. Slice vanilla beans open length-wise and scrape out the seeds. Cut pods into 1-2 inch pieces.

2. Pour half of the vodka into a second jar or an empty vodka bottle, so that both containers are half full of vodka (to enable vigorous mixing!).

3. Put vanilla seeds and pods into vodka, dispersing as evenly as possible. Seal tightly and shake.

We also sometimes would pour some of the vanilla into the other container, shake, pour a bunch back, shake the other container, etc... the idea is just to be able to mix it well. Technically you could put the beans into one 1.75L bottle (removing enough vodka to allow the beans to fit!) but it would be difficult to shake it and the vanilla extract would take a longer time to become strong and fragrant.

4. Label your bottles with the starting date.

5. Place bottles away from sunlight and shake once a day for the first week, and then once a week.

Some people have told us that their vanilla extract was ready in as little as 6 weeks with this method. We waited longer than 6 weeks, since we weren't in a big hurry and we wanted a very strong vanilla flavor. The longer you wait, the stronger it gets! After a few months, this vanilla tasted delicious and we've been using from it ever since.

When your vanilla extract is ready, you can pour off the top, leaving the seeds and pods in the bottom. Add more vodka to the bottle and shake and let sit until it smells strong enough for you! :)


(Our "big and strong" bottle of vanilla extract -- very very delicious!)

The Savings

I had been purchasing real vanilla extract at Aldi's. Their price (last year -- I haven't checked recently) was $1.99 for 2 ounces. That breaks down to $1 for 1 ounce and 1 ounce is 2 tablespoons of extract.

Now, the confusing part is when you start figuring liters (which is what the vodka comes in) and ounces and prices and all that. :)

Since the beans can be used twice, here is how I figured the price for our bottles of vanilla extract:

1.75 liters (~59 ounces) x 2 = ~118 ounces = ~$30 (total)

21 vanilla beans purchased from Amazon.com = $21.53 ($43.05 [for ~54 beans or 1/2 lb] divided in half -- price includes shipping)

Yield: 118 ounces of vanilla extract (3 liters) for $51.53

This same amount would cost $118 at Aldi (the cheapest real vanilla extract I have found) -- and ours tastes better! :)

If 3 liters sounds like a lot of vanilla extract, well, it is. :) That 118 ounces will make 236 tablespoons of vanilla extract! But vanilla extract won't "go bad", so you can store it for years and years. We do a lot of baking, and so we were willing to make the investment for the long-term savings. Even better, find someone local who will order some beans with you and you can split the order so that you get a better price on your beans!

You can, of course, make smaller amounts of vanilla extract. Your needs may be different from ours depending on your family size and eating habits! :)

Another great use for your homemade vanilla extract is to give it away as gifts. We have given away a number of "samples" of our vanilla extract to friends and family. It's a fun, tasty gourmet gift that people love! :)

Have any of my other readers made their own vanilla extract? If so, what kinds of beans and vodka have you tried, and what was your favorite? I'd love some recommendations of other kinds of vodka for when we need to purchase more! :)

Originally posted in August, 2008

This recipe was featured in 10 Fabulous Foods We Make At Home (Not Buy!) :)

Comments

I make my own vanilla. I

I make my own vanilla. I have been for about 10 years now.

I don't scrape my seeds out or chop the pods up.

I also use the cheapest Vodka I can find. You can also use clear Rum.

I'll have to try it your way next time.

Tammy's picture

Homemade vanilla extract questions

What ratio of beans to vodka do you use? How long do you allow yours to sit before it's strong enough to use? Have you noticed any taste differences between the different types of vodka and rum? :)

Burnett's Vodka and Vanilla Beans

I just made my first batch of vanilla, and I used Burnett's for the type of vodka, which is a quadruple distilled vodka. I chose this vodka because the liquor distributor in our area said this was the best brand--and buy, for my purpose. He also wants to try it when I am done, so I take that as a good opinion.
A small bottle of Burnett's in our area is about $2.15. (almost 2 cups) This is less than the cost of the bean!! But should produce good results.
I cannot wait for the results, as I bake a lot and can't wait for the results!! Good luck to all!!

I use rum and like the added

I use rum and like the added flavor that it gives the vanilla.

Vanilla beans

A great place to buy the vanilla bean is from a company called Saffron and Vanilla in San Francisco Ca. They have a web site and the prices are the best I
Have found and the service is great.
Georgie

That’s one reason I love Sam’s Club....

Sam's Club has some very good prices on expensive ingredients like pure vanilla extract, real maple syrup, honey, etc. I can buy 16 oz of pure vanilla extract for $6.88, or $.43 an ounce. Which means 118 ounces would be $50.74, or for $.79 less than you can make it. So, it’s not worth my time and effort.

I also used imitation extract for years, only recently switching to pure, so I’m already very impressed with taste and don’t know how much more I could be wowed. I’d consider it for gifts, but a significant portion of the people we give to avoid drinking any alcohol because of appearance of evil and so forth. I’m really not sure if some of them would be bothered by pure vanilla extract made from vodka....

But, if you don’t have access to a Sam’s Club, this sounds like something worth trying!

if they buy...

If they buy real vanilla extract, the commercial stuff is also made from alcohol, so I can't see why they'd be offended! You could repackage it in a pretty bottle as opposed to the vodka bottle. Thanks for suggesting it as a gift...this is actually a great idea!

We have some vodka we need to use up...I might have to try this recipe! Thanks, Tammy!

info. to consider with homemade vanilla extra

at 1 time I also thought it would cost me more to make pure vanilla than just buying it at Sam's. I did the comparison in price but what I didn't realize until after I bought a bottle of Tones from Sam's Club was it had water listed as an ingredient. I now believe homemade vanilla extract will cost less to make because it will be a stronger strength.

I found a great price on vanilla beans from OliveNation (online store) Heavenly Homemaker blog had a coupon code listed, as well....plus OliveNation offers free shipping on the beans.

Don't knock it til you try it.

All vanilla is made with alcohol so that point doesn't hold any real weight. As far as the pure vanilla you are buying at Sam's - it isn't truly pure. Unless you are a professional chef and selling your product I am sure that would do just fine. However, if you are someone reading this and you are looking to make true gourmet products making your own vanilla is the way to go if you are looking to cut cost and have more control over the quality of your vanilla extract, essence. Any professional will understand this. Making vanilla extract takes next to no time at all for prep work. The only real time involved is the aging process. We used so called "pure" vanilla extracts from all over and we will never go back. From a taste and cost stand point it makes no sense to.

Blessings!

I am so impressed

I am so impressed with what you make yourselves. I think it is amazing. As a source of cheap vanilla, I get mine in Mexico. I live nowhere near there but I always know someone who goes there on vacation. My parents went there on a cruise last year and bought me a 17 oz. bottle for $9 - not quite as good of a deal as homemade but cheap enough and delicious, too!

I wouldn't advise anyone to

I wouldn't advise anyone to get vanilla in Mexico. It's unregulated and a lot of it contains harmful chemicals. I just saw something in the news about that recently.

I'd rather pay a little more or hassle with making it myself than get an adulterated version of the stuff.

Costco's Kirkland Pure Vanilla

If I had to buy vanilla at the local grocery store, it would be cheaper to make my own as you do. But, I just purchased a 16 oz bottle of Costco's Kirkland Pure Vanilla for around $6, so cost-wise, it's not worth my time to make vanilla.

For a home school lesson and just experimenting and having fun with it, it would be worth it. So, thanks for the tutorial on how to do it. That's one thing I have never heard of or tried in my kitchen!

When I purchased the 16 oz bottle of vanilla last week, the boxer/bagger said, "Buying vanilla for the year?" We all politely laughed and said, "Um, No. Maybe for a month but definitely not a year! We bake for 11 people and we make most of our food from scratch. We also make goat milk ice cream during the summer. So we go through A LOT of vanilla." He responded, "Wow! I bought one of those little bottles from the market last fall so I could do my Christmas baking and I still have some left. And I do a lot of Christmas baking!"

While eating lunch, we all mused over what his idea of a lot of baking was : ) Maybe we should invite him over so he can get an idea of what a lot of baking is!

Laralee
http://PlymouthRockRanch.com
Recording the Faithfulness and Provision of God for Future Generations

I, too, buy my vanilla at

I, too, buy my vanilla at Costco. I used to make my own, but I think Costco's prices are pretty darn close to homemade and I don't need to wait 6 months anymore (I tend to use it in spurts).

Alison

The thing with Costco's vanilla...

I'm just about out of my gigantor bottle of Costco Vanilla and by chance found an old, teeny bottle of McCormick's real vanilla extract in the pantry. I opened both bottles and took a sniff and McCormick's smelled *so* much better. It was interesting to be able to do a direct comparison.

I'll need to check labels next time I'm at the grocery store to see if they add sugar/corn syrup, but McCormick's smelled less like alcohol and more like sweet vanilla. Costco's vanilla was very "boozy" in comparison.

Now, whether or not you can taste the difference when it's just a teaspoon or two in a two-layer cake, who knows? And Costco's vanilla is a great value, no question. But I'm going to make my own and see if I can make an even better extract.

It was stronger and smelled

It was stronger and smelled less like alcohol because of the age.Vanilla gets better with age and loosing the smell.

strength of vanilla

I just wanted to say that I had been baking my way through a bottle of COSTCO Vanilla and for years prior to that I was a McCormick's girl just by habit...I wonder WHERE the vanilla ends up if the bottle just sits. I DO KNOW from a homemade vanilla site that there SHOULD be oil of the surface when you strain it through when it is done, but I would think those volatile oils might not last the whole bottle depending if you are the sort to leave the bottle open or not. That said,let me explain that I was amazed how wonderful the COSTCO vanilla smelled with each using....maybe they changed standard? So that said I am now using an Organic Vanilla that has 3 ingredients water, organic alcohol (35%) and organic vanilla bean extractives. I give it a rough shake before each use, and I am over half done. I opened it about 3months ago. It smells of a very little vanilla and a rough alcohol sent. opened another bottle of the organic (different maker) and it also had very little vanilla sent for me. Maybe I WILL HAVE TO GO BACK and trial both COSTCO and McCormick [ I didn't get COSTCO because I let my membership last....why pay $35 a year for cheaper batteries and vanilla? I used to get chocolate chips and nuts, but when I had to go soy-free and organic I stoppped buying there.

I don't know if I posted my

I don't know if I posted my last comment in the wrong thread, but I don't see it now. I think that is really fantastic, Tammy! I am going to try it when I can afford to! : )

By the way, I found a place where you can buy the vanilla beans- 5 pods for 4.50!
http://www.beanilla.com/bourbon-vanilla-beans-p-89.html

And at this link, you can get them for 1 dollar each:
http://www.cakeart.us/index.cfm/fa/items.main/parentcat/11467/subcatid/0/id/171681

Oooooooooooh...yummy!

Your first and ONLY trip to the liquor store? Aww! You're missing out, girl!

Just kidding. I buy all my wine and any beer we need at the grocery store here in Wisconsin. ;) Not a fan of the local liquor store.

I've made my own vanilla in the past - I certainly would not use 'good' vodka (Smirnoff). I'd use Skol or Katchatka like you did. As another poster mentioned, clear rum works well, as does tequila. :) I'm partial to a bourbon vanilla myself. Talk about a depth of flavor! I've actually made this as Christmas gifts for friends...get little bottles at a place like Penzey's Spices or what not, put a cute fabric topper on it with a ribbon and a tag of what it is with a recipe? My family loves it! One friend actually got mad at me last year when I gave her something from her wedding gift registry instead of the bottle of vanilla I've given her in the past!

And as an aside, I like to use my vanilla for one other purpose...a husband trap! I have all these wonderful perfumes from Chanel, Guerlain, Givenchy, etc, but nothing makes Aaron stop and take notice like a few drops of vanilla on my pulse points. :) He'll say all day, "Did you get a new candle? What is that? It smells SO good!"

This is a Much Better Explanantion!

Well Tammy you did a MUCH better job explaining the process than I did, but thanks for the link :) I think I am ready to do the big batch now that I tried a little one!

Vanilla

Hi Tammy,

This sounds so delicious! We bake a lot -- well I bake a lot and George eats a lot:) but we go through vanilla like you wouldn't believe.I can't wait to try your recipe. Six whole months, huh? That seems like a looonnnngg time!

Take Care,

Trixie

Vanilla

I've been making my own vanilla for more than 10 years now. I put only 1 or 2 vanilla beans in a 5th of Vodka and keep in a dark place for 2 weeks before use.

I've also used Brandy instead of Vodka for a different vanilla flavor.

I love pure vanilla! I

I love pure vanilla! I recently bought the "fake" stuff because it's so much cheaper, and it doesn't even smell as good- much less taste as good!
On the homemade- it sounds great, but I don't think I could ever go and buy vodka.
My sis-in-law is a missionary in Mexico and we'll be seeing them soon, so I'm planning on asking her to pick me up some vanilla before they come!

Wow..good job!

In PA you cannot buy ANY liquor in the grocery store. So I have to go to the liquor store.

We use/drink Skyy vodka. We use a few different liquors in desserts. Like chocolate, almond orange. yum!

I just buy the pure vanilla extract at the grocery store. I don't do a lot of baking so it lasts a good period of time.

IF we have dessert, I usually dress something up that is store bought.

Good to know

Wow, who knew? Thanks for sharing the information and recipe for making vanilla. I might have to try this out sometime.

bourbon works well too`

We have used bourbon also, and it works very well. White Brandy makes a neat option too. My mother and I have tried all different kinds of liquors to make vanilla extract.

How out of the loop am I? I

How out of the loop am I? I had no idea there was alcohol in vanilla extract. Duh!

-Zan

Thanks!

Thanks for posting this, Tammy. I've found cheap vanilla at various places, but it all has sugar added, so I'd rather make my own.

Making vanilla

We've been making our own vanilla for quite a while now too. I'd love some input on where to find nice, inexpensive jars for bottling vanilla for gifts. The bottles I see in the stores are so pricey.

Hubby and I were talking

Hubby and I were talking about this for next Christmas. We were thinking jelly jars, which are cheap at Walmart, and then the plastic lids (instead of the metal canning lids), and then cross-stitched jar covers, just because I love to cross-stitch. :)

Tammy's picture

I have used jelly jars with

I have used jelly jars with a metal canning lid and metal ring... tying a bow around the top makes it pretty -- and you can leave a vanilla bean in the jar for looks if the jar is big/tall enough! :)

Cheap packaging

This site has lots of glass bottles, and I think the prices are fantastic - wholesale prices but you can buy just 1 or 2. The only drawback is they have a $10 "small order surcharge". Even still it seems to come out to way less than I've seen anywhere else. I'm just stuck trying to figure out what size bottles to buy. I bought 8oz bottles and they're way too big to give away as gifts, but I don't know if 4oz is still big and if 2oz is too small...too many decisions!

This is the site: http://www.containerandpackaging.com/.

Making Vanilla

I've made this in the past as well. bourbon does make good vanilla but also adds is own flavor. i just split the beans down the middle like i would to scrape the seeds, but dont' scrape them.

Also, vanilla sugar is great. I like a tiny sprinkle on apple pancakes. After I use the beans I rinse well, let dry, and pop them into a canister with sugar.

I've had good luck with arizonavanilla.com. they have beans and extract. they also have no sugar extract and vanilla products for ppl who don't want alcohol. Customer service is top notch , which is so rare these days.

Stuff
proactivebridemaid.com

Whoops

sorry for the bum link. should be proactivebridesmaid.wordpress.com
-stuff

Good Bean Source

I just received some beans I ordered from

www.saffron.com

They are awesome! This guy only sells saffron and vanilla beans. I got sun-dried tahitian beans, 1/2 lb. for $23.00 (shipping included)! That is about 90 beans!! That's 25 cents per bean!! A friend told me that she likes to put a piece of a bean in her coffee before she grinds it(YUM). My wife is excited about making vanilla sugar and I can't wait to try my extract in six months!! Including the cost of the vodka, that worked out to 41 cents per ounce!!!! Beat that in a grocery store!

Vanilla

I ordered beans from www.mountainroseherbs.com for $12 per ounce = 6 - 9 vanilla beans of the Vanilla planifolia variety from Papua New Guinea, and they are certified organic. My ratio is 12 beans to 1 quart of vodka, with a splash of cognac for added aftertaste. Yes, it may be cheaper to buy the extract various places, however you have no control over the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow the beans, as well as the added sugar and water in a bottle of commercial extract. I am making a quart with Grey Goose vodka, which I will bottle into 4 oz. bottles and give as gifts at Christmas. If you put a split half bean into each bottle, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Instruct the recipient to add more vodka when the bottle gets half way down, and it will keep replenishing itself for 12 - 18 months with moderate use. For someone who bakes all the time (grandmas), you may want to add 2 halves of a bean to increase the strength. Mountainroseherbs.com also sells various 2 oz. and 4 oz. bottles which you do not have to have a minimum to order for the same price. I chose cobalt blue.

-Brandy in Kalamazoo, MI

Store bought pure vanilla extract= read the ingredients

Read the ingredients, you may be surprised to find even the more expensive Pure Vanilla Extract will have water and sugar listed in the ingredients. So it is not 'truly' pure, it is watered down.

Watered Down Extract

I can understand staying away from store bought extracts that contain added sugar or corn syrup... But I've seen more than one post here disparaging the store bought varieties for listing water... People, if vodka is 40% alcohol, what do you think the other 60% is??? IT IS WATER! All extract ever made on the planet earth contains lots and lots (usually more than 50%) of WATER. And do not think that less water makes a better extract. IT DOES NOT.

Water - true....

That's true. In fact I've read of people making large batches adding water to 80 proof vodka to make it 35% alcohol (1/8th distilled water to 7/8 part vodka + vanilla beans = a gallon extract). Apparently only 35% alcohol is required but since most vodka is 80 proof, they add the distilled water to help cut down on any alcohol smell. The alcohol smell and taste is the reason manufacturers add sugar.

Homemade Vanilla

I'm experimenting with making my own vanilla now. I made one batch with vodka about 2 weeks ago...I can't wait to try it! I think I will go home tonight and try some with rum to see which I like better. I would like to give some as Christmas gifts, does it matter what type of bottle you use? Does it have to be something like a mason jar or can it be a bottle with a screw top? Any suggestions on a good place to buy bottles that would be suitable for gifts? Thanks for the great ideas so far!

-Colleen, NS, Canada

Vanilla and bottles

I've been making my vanilla for a couple of years now. The way I save a ton of money on the beans is by using Grade B beans instead of the expensive Grade A. The Grade B taste just as great as the Grade A but they aren't as pretty to look at which doesn't matter when you're making extract. You will also see these listed as Extract Grade beans. When you buy these along with cheap vodka you almost cannot buy it, even at Sam's as cheap. Also, you get more bang for your buck with Grade B because the water content is less so 1 pound of Grade B beans usually has 40 -60 more than 1 pound of Grade A. I have found lots of bottles on ebay lately for really reasonable prices!

I never knew...

wow - this is very interesting. I've got to try it!

amyd's picture

I've used Rum

I used Captain Morgan's spiced rum to make vanilla. It does wonderful things to cookies, ice cream, and frosting. I got my vanilla beans from e-bay. I also made some vanilla sugar but haven't used it for anything yet.

We put our first bottle of

We put our first bottle of homemade vanilla extract in the cupboard a few months ago. It took about 6 weeks to get close, and now smells better than what you buy in stores. We used a bottle of spiced rum and some vanilla beans we had that were all dried out and not good for much anymore (forgot to wrap them carefully). Because they were dried we couldn't split and scrape them so I broke them in half (to fit in the bottle) and just dropped them in. It worked out just fine.
We're planning on giving homemade vanilla extract as Christmas gifts this coming year. The only thing that's tripping me up is finding bottles- vanilla extract should be stored in dark bottles if at all possible.

Timely post!

My husband and I were just discussing making some vanilla this week as the cost of it has increased in our grocery store. I used to buy the extract because of price but found out that gluten is in various brands so I now go with the pure good stuff. Thanks so much for the info Tammy and everyone as to where to purchase the beans!

Oh, and I agree with the commenter above about the Mexico vanilla. It is sad but unless you know your supplier there be careful. Reports were showing people getting sick because of vanilla products that has been "altered", thinned down with chemicals for to make more money. My folks had always gotten their vanilla from Mexico but stopped after seeing those reports last fall. Guess I will be making up a batch for them now. :)
Betsy

Gluten and vanilla extract

I think all vanilla extract (or at least most) is made from distilled alcohol, which is gluten-free. The gluten molecule is too large to pass during the distillation process.

Here is a link with more information: http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/2006/11/dark-brown-joys-of-vanilla-extract.html

I love Nielsen-Massey vanilla, especially since it's made not from from me in IL.

yum

I am gonna have to try this sometime! You make it look so good and easy!
-and frugal ;-)
-Donna-

YUMMY

I just saw this week that Costco sells Vanilla beans! Not too pricey either.

great idea

I would always rather make my own things instead of buy them. You just never know now days whats in the store items. I just found out that most of the foods in the store is gmo. I will be trying this out for sure! I checked out saffron site the person mentioned but the organic beans were 55 dollars a pd.! Great place for those who dont care if its organic though, good price. I think I will look around and see. I love the vanilla sugar idea and I can put some in my husbands coffee....great ideas!

I have bought vanilla beans

I have bought vanilla beans on ebay from the seller listed below and they were very nice beans! They were soft and pliable and smelled wonderful. The mailman asked me what was in the mail that smelled so good!
http://myworld.ebay.com/arogyaherbs/

You can get cheaper beans.

You can get cheaper beans. I just started making vanilla extract too. I started off making some just for myself, but it is such a great idea that I'm making another batch so I have some for gift giving. After doing a lot of reading I found out that to make a true extract you actually need a minimum of 6 quality beans per cup of alcohol, other wise what you are really making is vanilla flavoured alcohol and not an extract.

The best price on beans that I found was on ebay. I buy from a seller called Vanilla Products USA. For extract grade Madagascar beans it cost just under $10.00 for 30 beans...about .30 cents a bean. If you need more beans, it costs less per bean. Much cheaper than paying $4.00 a bean at the grocery store (here in Canada).

I buy my beans at Penzeys

I buy my beans at Penzeys Spices. They carry Madagascar and Mexican vanilla beans. I like to make vanilla sugar for gift giving and have been thinking about trying to make extract. Thanks for all the good advice!

Cheapest bean source

I just bought some beans from http://stores.ebay.com/Vanilla-Products-USA

They are the cheapest of any I can find, they are organic, and with over 9,000 auctions they have a100% rating.

I ended up buying 2 lbs and am planning on selling a bunch of it off to interested friends. In reading up on it they recommend using both the Tahitian bean and the Bourbon beans, so I bought one of each.

Thanks for posting this. I usually get it from Mexico from my grandparents who visit there regularly, but it's kind of a hassle to make sure I always have some on hand. And we go through 2 or 3 large bottles a year.

homemade vanilla extract

I'm ready to try the recipe. Bought some Absolute vodka(a baker friend said that the better the vodka the better your grade of extract) ? I dont' know. At a local organic store 2 beans cost me $9.89 and their was no indication as to whether the beans were from madagascar or any place else. followed the recipe now I am patiently witing. Though I have heard that i months wait and 2 weeks wait was sufficient? Any advice on the waiting time? P.S. I will certainly look for cheaper beans, this was my first time and I just wanted to hurry and try it. I do a lotttttttt of baking. Thanks a lot
Yammie Pies in Milwaukee, WI

Tammy's picture

How long does it take to make homemade vanilla extract?

Really, the longer the better! In my experience, the homemade vanilla extract was not nearly strong enough in 2-4 weeks' time. The more beans you use (for the amount of alcohol), the faster you will achieve "full-strength" vanilla extract. (See my notes above for the amounts we used.)

I think with homemade vanilla extract, it's best if you can have patience with the whole process! (Since you do a lot of baking, maybe you could get some vanilla extract affordably from Costco or a similar store, to hold you over until your homemade extract is finished!) :)

beans

Hi I have begun my 1st batch of vanilla & Have left over beans. What is the best way to store them & how long do they keep. The only instructions on the bag were to not Refridgerate them. Thanks! I'm so excited to see how it turns out... I'm thinking ahead for Christmas gifts :)

Tammy's picture

How we store vanilla beans

We keep our extra vanilla beans stored in a ziplock bag in a cupboard or sealed tote. Over time (a year? or more?) they will become less soft and not as fresh (but are still usable!). :)

Homemade Vanilla

I purchased a pound of beans from
www.VanillaProductsUSA.com
1 One Pound Madagascar Bourbon Grade B Extract Vanilla Beans 6" @ $24.95 = $24.95 + 1/4 lb Grade A Gourmet Tahitian vanilla beans free. That should lower the price per ounce, and I'm looking forward to extracting the beans and presenting this wonderful elixir to my friends and family!

Using Malibu rum

I just recently made my first batch of vanilla extract using Malibu rum instead of vodka. I chopped up about 1/8 of the pound of the vanilla beans, and covered it with just under 2 cups of rum. Then I shook it once a day for a month and then strain it. It turned out wonderful. I ordered a pound of Tahitian beans from vanilla products USA on eBay, and they gave me a quarter of a pound free, and with shipping it was under $30. I have also made some vanilla sugar, and it is great.

Vanilla Flavored Vodka

There are now several brands of Vodka that are Vanilla flavored. Would this make an even better tasting vanilla extract??

Regarding bottles

I am really excited to try your recipe. This will be my first try. From here I will try making vanilla with different types of alcohol and different types and quantities of beans. I have found a local olive oil company that will sell me bottles by the case or unit, whichever I need, for about a buck a piece (for a 12 oz bottle). That was cheaper than the 2-3 dollars per bottle I found at ROSS. I have also reached out to a friend who works at a local winery to see if they will do the same. Just a thought for those of you who have such a business near by. One could always go to the thrift store or a garage sale, but, honestly, I would rather know I am using food grade bottles that have not had anything held in them yet. My preference though.

amber bottles for vanilla gifting

just found (and purchased) 4 ounce amber bottles with lids for home made vanilla Christmas gifts - they were .68 cents a piece no minimum, but shipping of course! The site was specialtybottle.com . There are lots of choices, great things for gifting home made almond or peanut butters as well!
Thanks, by the way for all the tips on what sort of Vodka to use! Been using a bit more expensive stuff in the past, but see no indication here to continue doing so!

Bottles

Bottling the stuff for Christmas is where the expense was getting to me. Even if the bottles are cheap, the shipping is outrageous.

At Frontier Natural products you can get a dozen four oz amber bottles with lids for $13.00. Shipping was about $6 (for me). I bought 36 bottles and it worked out to about $1.04 each, after searching for a retailmenot.com coupon code (20% off-- GIMME20)

I love those rounded boston bottles-- but these square flavoring style ones were the best deal I found.

Question

I have white cloudy things floating off my beans. It's been sitting for about 8 months in the dark. Does anyone know if this is bad? Thanks

used vanilla beans

Is there anything to be done with once or twice-soaked vanilla beans after you're done making vanilla extract? Seems a shame to just toss out these expensive little guys! Can they be used to make vanilla paste? Other recipe? Shelf life, how to store? Thanx!

cheapest vanilla beans i have found!

I am a month into my first batch of vanilla extract, used 4 per 8 oz. of liquor, for strength. I got my beans at indrivanilla.com. 50cents each!!! They were beautiful and plump and very fragrant. they do vary in length and thickness, but I feel I got a great value. Oh they smelled so good! I also do homemade air freshener. I use a small pump bottle, with vodka in it and 20 or so drops of essential oil. the vodka disperses better than water. I plan on trying my extract in there. the beans were that intoxicating.
anyway, just thought I would share my cheap source

Get your beans on E-Bay!

I just made a batch of homemade vanilla a couple of weeks ago and purchased my beans on E-Bay for crazy cheap! I bought a 1/2 pound bunch of Grade B (apparently better than Grade A for making vanilla extract) for $18.00 plus free shipping. I also scored a package of 50 4oz Amber glass bottles from e-bay for about $20 total, so I know what everyone will be getting for Christmas this year! Oh, and the e-bay seller included a card with tips and tricks for making your own extract. He suggested just chopping the vanilla into 1/2" long pieces and adding it. I tried one jar this way and one jar splitting the beans. The chopped pieces were much quicker and my vanilla is much richer in that jar. It's like after a couple of days, the chopped pieces turned into a straw and really opened up, letting out more vanilla goodness. This method, the e-bay seller claims, only takes 2 months to mature. Time will tell!

Costco's vanilla is good; definitely better than imitation, but a friend gave me a bottle of homemade vodka vanilla last Christmas and I couldn't believe the difference! You CAN taste the difference in baked goods. All of my baked goods now come out tasting richer and more vibrant, and these are the exact same recipes I've been using for years. Who knew I'd ever turn into a vanilla snob? :)

p.s. If you want to keep supporting Costco for vanilla, I heard they sell vodka there for a great price. I haven't looked for myself and would have never realized that they sell hard liquor, but saw a post about it the other day. Then you'd have a new version of vodka vanilla extract and wouldn't have to look like a booze hound going to the liquor for a bunch of vodka and swearing up and down that it's for a recipe when you run into someone you know outside of the store (yes, this happened to me!). :)

Inexpensive Vanilla Beans

World Market sells inexpensive vanilla beans; I usually get them when they've got a friends & family coupon (10% off). Homemade vanilla is so much more fragrant and rich than the store bought stuff. I'd say that the hardest part is waiting 6 months for it to be ready. If you think you even might like the stuff, I'd say make a few batches, one a month or one every few months, so that you never run out of freshly made vanilla extract!

Clear extract?

Let me say upfront: I didnt read all posts in this thread, but I am wondering: which liquor would youi have to use to make clear extract? Or is that not possible because of the color of the vanilla beans?

No such thing

Making vanilla extract is like making tea - the bean is very dark, and the more it infuses with the alcohol, the darker the alcohol will get.

REAL vanilla extract is

REAL vanilla extract is never clear because real vanilla beans are not clear.

clear vanilla

There is a source for 'real' clear vanilla extract. I haven't tried it, but here is what a quote fro the site: "Our Natural Clear Vanilla is made from the organic crystals that form on the outside of Real vanilla bean. It is the compound that gives vanilla its characteristic flavor." They also say it is double strength so half the amount a recipe calls for could be used.

http://www.icdc.com/~vanilla/clear_white_vanilla_natural.htm

Vanilla

Thank you for posting your recipe and all the details on how to make your homemade Vanilla, I can't wait to try it!

Vanilla French Toast

I am making a batch of vanilla right now and here is a recipe my 9 year old son came up with that he LOVES for breakfast.
2 x large eggs (Makes 3 to 4 pieces of regular bread french toast)
2 heaping tablespoons all natural apple sauce
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon our home made vanilla
a pinch of Cinnamon.
Whisk all the ingredients together until well blended and soak each piece of bread of your choice, both sides in the mixture.
You can use cooking spray or we use a tablespoon of real butter in a hot skillet and brown well on both sides. We sprinkle powdered vanilla sugar on ours (dried left over pods ground and mixed with powdered sugar) and my son can not get enough!!! I have to admit, his suggestion of ingredients is yummy and makes my entire house smell amazing!

Hesitant about the Vodka

Your first and only trip to the liquor store? Do you simply prefer the buy somewhere else or do you not drink?

I'm super curious because I've been wanting to make my own vanilla for a while now, but I'm hung up on the Vodka. It's against my religion to drink, so the idea of bringing a bottle of it into my house (full of 5 other girls from my church) doesn't sit right. But I know that store-bought vanilla is made from alcohol.... Do you know when it stops being alcoholic?

I think I'm going to do this, though, maybe prep at a non-church-going friend's house. (I can't imagine the backlash if my roommates walked into a house that smelled like vodka.)

Doesn't the alcohol burn off

Doesn't the alcohol burn off during the cooking process? Or is it that we're using such a tiny bit of it that a teaspoon or two of alcohol isn't going to make a difference? I hope so, because I've hopped into the car mere seconds after eating way more cookie dough than I should, and I haven't been pulled over yet for impaired driving. ;D

Vodka itself has no "smell"

Vodka itself has no "smell" the only smell you would get would be if you actually opened the bottle & smelled it. Then you would smell an alcohol scent. Once you add the vanilla beans into it, it will smell exactly the same as a bottle of store bought, pure vanilla extract. I see your concern in regards to your religious beliefs, but in my opinion, as long as your not buying it to drink, I don't see any harm in it. After all, you are only buying to make the extract. Do you currently buy store bought pure vanilla extract to bake with? All pure vanilla extract (not imitation or flavoring) contains alcohol. The alcohol burns off during cooking. I hope that helps ;)

No worrys about alcohol!

The alcohol does burn off. The reason it is used is so that the extract doesn't spoil. If you were to use water,let's say, it would go bad. The vodka(or other alcohol) keeps it from getting icky!

ground vanilla.

Can you use ground vanilla to make vanilla extract? I live in italy and am american and I cannot find vanilla extract anywhere. I found some ground vanilla and wanted to try it. I also found Vanilla beans from Madagascar and think I will try your recipe for my own vanilla extract.d

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