vanilla extract

2013-08-22 18.17.08
A while ago I made vanilla extract as gifts for the holidays. It was a simple project, just required some patience. The people I gave it to all were impressed and loved it. I decided to make another couple bottles just to have around.

Vanilla Extract

you need:

– vanilla beans

Last time, I ordered a few different beans (I liked the Tonga and Tahitian varieties the best) from They were very fresh and oily when they arrived. The result: flavorful, pungent extract. This time, I bought them from the grocery store, and they were a little more dried out. I’ll update when I know how this batch of vanilla has turned out.

*UPDATE*- 9/13/13- The vanilla has been infusing for over 2 weeks and it smells delicious. I think the dried beans work just as well as the oily ones

– 1/3 cup of alcohol per vanilla bean

High proof, cheap alcohol. 100 proof vodka really emphasizes the flavor of the vanilla bean. I also used bourbon instead of vodka in a couple bottles, which resulted in extract with a lot more character.

– glass bottle with a top

If you are making only one bottle, use an empty vanilla extract bottle or pick something up at your local home brewing store. There are also sites online that sell bottles in bulk. I printed out labels and covered them with clear packing tape.

– cutting board and paring knife

-funnel (optional)


1) Make sure your glass bottle has been washed and dried (I would recommend running it through a hot wash in the dishwasher).

2) Make a slit lengthwise down the vanilla bean (from end to end), exposing the interior.

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3) Put the vanilla beans in the bottle, and pour 1/3 cup of alcohol per vanilla bean on top (if you are using 2 vanilla beans, you will pour in 2/3 cup of alcohol). Make sure the vanilla beans are mostly submerged in the alcohol.

4). Close the bottle, and leave it in a cool, dark place for 1 month. In that time, the vanilla will infuse into the alcohol, and the extract is ready to use!

I chose to leave the beans in the bottle. They will continue to infuse into the alcohol for about another 6 months (depending on how heavily you use the extract). When you have depleted about 20% of the original extract, you can refill the bottle with plain alcohol and continue to use the extract. Eventually, the beans will stop infusing and will stop smelling as strongly as they first did. Then it is time to replace the beans!

typed out label, covered with packing tape

typed out label, covered with packing tape to protect it

Enjoy! I like using the vodka vanilla extract in banana bread, and the bourbon vanilla extract in chocolate chip cookies and crepes.

What recipes do you like to use vanilla in?

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