Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

vanilla extract

I shared this recipe last year on Shining Stars … at the time, I had started the vanilla extract process but it was not yet finished.  We have now been enjoying vanilla since May and it took us about seven months to go through one quart.  At that rate, one gallon should last us over two years!  (credit: homeschooling math 🙂 )  Talk about cost effective!  And, because we have a large quantity sitting in our cabinet, we have been able to use it more often than before.  If you have not made your own vanilla, you might want to try this.

I love vanilla!

Whether it is cake, cookies, pie, pudding, homemade coffee creamer, you name it … it’s always a little better with some vanilla added to it 🙂

I would probably put vanilla in everything … everything dessert-like, that is … except that it is so expensive!

And I have a conscientious objection to buying vanilla extract that has sugar or corn syrup in it, which makes it even more expensive 🙁

I heard about making homemade vanilla awhile back on the Heavenly Homemakers website.  It sounded like something I would be interested in doing, but life kept going on and I did not make it happen.  Recently, when faced with the sad fact that we are going to need to buy more vanilla very soon, I started researching what would be involved in making our own.  It is so simple!  And so much cheaper than buying it from elsewhere!

The only drawback is that the homemade-vanilla-process takes about four to six months from start to finish 🙁 .  I know, I know … it is a long wait, but I had a feeling that it would be so worth it in the end.  So while I knew that it wouldn’t be ready before we finished off the last few tablespoons in our vanilla extract bottle, I figured that it would make sense to go ahead and get started so that maybe it could be ready by the time we finish the bottle that we are about to spend an arm and a leg on 🙂

Enough said!  The purpose of this post was not to harp on our vanilla woes but to educate all of you that may have the same difficulty spending approximately $2 per ounce on this ingredient that makes all sweet foods just a little bit sweeter!  Here are instructions on how to make one gallon of vanilla extract –

  • Order vanilla beans – I recommend these Premium Madagascar Vanilla Beans.  You can buy 1 pound (approx. 108 beans) for $59.95 and shipping is free!
  • Buy one gallon of vodka – or you can do what I did and, being concerned about the impression that might be given by a long-skirt-wearing-headcovered-young-woman purchasing a gallon of vodka, ask your husband or father to get it for you :).  It doesn’t have to be high quality – you can use the cheapest stuff on the shelf.
  • Split your beans and pack them into a jar – pictures to demonstrate below.
  • Fill your jar with vodka and put in a dark place for 4 – 6 months – only thing you have to do during that time period is to shake it a couple times a month.

See? It’s that easy! A gallon of vanilla extract for about $90!! So now for the pictures …

Gather your supplies:
80 vanilla beans
1 gallon of vodka
1 glass gallon jar (or two half-gallons, or four quarts)

Count out the correct number of beans.  If you’re using a one gallon jar, you need 80.  I made mine in four, one-quart jars, so I needed 20 beans for each jar.

Using scissors, slice the beans in half except for about an inch or so on the end.  This part does require a little caution, as the beans are thin and you don’t want to separate the two halves.  (If your scissors slip and slice too far, I wouldn’t lost any sleep over it!)

Your beans should look like this –

Then you stuff your split beans into a clean jar.  If using a quart, you have to squish them down a little to make them fit!

Fill the jar with vodka.

Admire your handiwork and pray a blessing on it!

Put the jars in the back of a cabinet … write “Made vanilla today!” on your calendar  count four months and write “Vanilla ready!”  and dream about all the yummy recipes you’ll make!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention … the one pound of vanilla beans contains about 108 beans but you only need 80 to make a gallon of extract.  You can make an extra quart with the remaining beans or use them in recipes.  I cut up part of one to use in some homemade coconut milk ice cream … mmm mmm!

Have you ever made vanilla extract?

6 thoughts on “Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

  1. Although I cannot afford to order that many vanilla beans, I have seen them for sale at Kroger grocery store. Besides, at my age I’d never live long enough to use a gallon of vanilla! Ha-ha! So I could get by with buying a bag of vanilla beans at Kroger and a quart of vodka (I’d definitely get a male to do that!). What a wonderful thing to know! Thank you so much for sharing this. The how-to pictures were a help, also. Has your batch matured yet? How does it taste? Let your readers know the results. Blessings….Charlene

    1. Wow – I haven’t seen them at Kroger although we shop there fairly often! That’s good to know … although sometimes Kroger’s items are higher-priced than what you can find online. For instance, you can get these 25 Madagascar Grade A Gourmet Vanilla Beans for $19.99 and free shipping. I don’t know how that would compare to Kroger pricing?

      Yes, my batch has matured and the flavor is great! I will be sharing some recipes soon – food stuff that I like to make with it 🙂

  2. I think I saw that post (on heavenly homemakers)… it kinda made me laugh: something tells me walking up to my dad like “Hey, lets go get a *gallon* of vodka” would be just as bad as “Look what I bought today!” or even worse “I opened that package you got…”

  3. We do that all the time! I use a lot of vanilla in a lot of the things I cook so we need a lot on hand. We actually have to start brewing some again. And it smells so delicious!

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