98. Homemade Vanilla Extract


Homemade vanilla extract may take a little advanced planning to make, but what a cool gift! Most vanilla recipes call for vodka or alcohol as the base. A lot of people don't know that you can also use food-grade vegetable glycerin as a base. Here are a couple of recipe versions to make your own vanilla extract...


You'll need to plan this out two months in advance, as that is how long it takes the vanilla to steep.

Using cool stoppered bottles (like the one pictured) makes the gift feel even more special—almost like a micro-brew. Add the free printable labels and you will be the coolest gift-giver out there.

Now, here are the two recipes. The first is the more common recipe, using alcohol as its base. The second is the glycerin based extract.

Homemade Vanilla Extract:

makes four 8-ounce bottles
  • 1 quart certified gluten-free vodka
  • 1/4 pound 100% certified organic grade 1 extract vanilla beans (buy beans in bulk online for the cheapest prices)
  • 4 8-ounce glass containers

  1. Evenly divide the vanilla beans amongst the containers you are using and pour the vodka over top. Give it a good shake.
  2. Store covered in a cool dark place for at least 4-6 weeks, shaking the bottle several times a week.
  3. When your vanilla extract is ready to be used, strain out the vanilla beans and any residue, if you’d like. A strainer, cheesecloth, nut milk bag or even a ladies nylon stocking would all work just fine. I like giving mine as a gift with the beans still in the bottle and with a date printed on the bottle for when it is ready to use.
  4. The extract should be stored at room temperature and, like a fine wine, it will only get better the longer it sits.

Alternate versions:
  1. Flavor Variety: You can switch up the flavors a bit by using different variations of vanilla beans or opting for bourbon, rum, or brandy instead of the vodka.
  2. Non-Alcoholic: To make in Non-alcoholic, use vegetable glycerin instead of the alcohol. You can find vegetable glycerin online (Bulk Apothecary might be the cheapest) & in some health food stores.

Notes on where to find less expensive vanilla beans:
  • Vanilla beans will cost you a pretty penny if you buy them at the grocery store. They usually cost between $8-$12 for two beans. So avoid getting them at the grocery store if at all possible.
  • You may have specialty food markets where you live (Mexican grocers, etc.)—sometimes you can find vanilla beans in bulk, at cheaper prices here.
  • Check your Sam's Club or CostCo. Last year Costco had a pack of 10 organic vanilla beans for $16.00 (which is an AMAZING price).
  • Check Etsy.com. Most people don't think about looking for food items or herbs on Etsy, but you can find some good deals on bulk items (just watch the shipping charges).
  • Likewise, search Amazon, eBay, and bulk herb resellers (like Bulk Apothecary, VitaminShoppe, Mountain Rose Herbs, etc.)
Also note that some retailers sell vanilla beans by the ounce. On average there are 5-7 vanilla beans per ounce.


Source: Tasty Yummies


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