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Pantry Recipe: Make Your Own Vanilla Extract


Homemade vanilla extract  recipeVanilla simply makes everything taste better.

Most of us use the imitation vanilla extract sold in grocery stores, because buying pure vanilla extract gets really expensive.

A few years ago I was on a cooking spurt and decided I wanted to start making as many pantry products for myself. I wasn’t really trying to save money, though it does help with that…I simply was trying to cut out processed food and the chemicals that you get in them.

So when I found a recipe on Recipezaar.com (now Food.com) by Mirj, one of my favorite cooks there, I new I had to try it. The idea of making vanilla extract from just vodka and vanilla beans sounded great.

I chatted with her a bit via the site. She lives in Israel so I often had to wait until she woke up for her to answer my questions…and she shared this with me:

I buy the cheapest vodka available, just don’t skimp in the vanilla beans. I usually buy two gorgeous, fat, plump beans, split them, scrape them, chop them and dump the whole thing into a liter of vodka. 30 days later, you could attract yourself a new husband with the results! BTW, it makes some amazing vanilla-flavored vodka in the beginning, great with orange juice for a Julius-type screwdriver!

The comment about finding a new husband had to do with the fact that she told a man she was dating that she made her own vanilla, and he was really impressed. She claims that it was this recipe that helped her find her herself a husband.

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Ingredients:

4 vanilla beans
1 liter vodka (the cheapest vodka you can buy!)

Directions:

Using vanilla beans to make vanilla extract

1. Using a steak knife or a sharp small knife, gently score each of the vanilla beans by cutting the length of the bean without cutting all the way through the bean. Use your fingers to pull the cut sides apart to expose the seeds inside the bean.
2. Cut the vanilla beans into pieces about 2-3 inches long.
3. Drop the cut beans into the vodka bottle. If you are using a brand new bottle, you’ll want to make yourself a drink first, since adding the beans will make the vodka overflow.
4. Put the cap back on the bottle, make the date on the bottle (I used masking tape) and place the bottle in a dark, cool place. Inside the pantry or a liquor cabinet is perfect.
5. Leave the bottle untouched for 1-3 months. The longer it sits, the stronger the vanilla flavor.
6. When you are ready to use the new vanilla extract, pour a small amount out of the bottle into a smaller bottle. I use a single serving wine bottle. Be sure to use a strainer of some sort (actual strainer, cheesecloth or a coffee filter) to prevent the vanilla seeds from getting into the small bottle.

Homemade vanilla extract recipe

Use a strainer when making homemade vanilla extract

Homemade vanilla extract being strained

Don’t use a lot of vanilla?

That’s even better. The longer your vanilla seeps the better it will be. I’m still working on this bottle that I started in 2007, and the vanilla is a deep amber color with tons of flavor.

This vanilla extract recipe is also perfect for those of us who like to stretch every dollar because the vanilla beans aren’t used up after making a bottle. To make a 2nd batch, simple fill the bottle half full with cheap vodka and repeat the process of letting it sit for a couple of months before you use it. When that batch is used up, you can reuse the vanilla beans one last time, filling the bottle 1/4 full.

Want to make some vanilla vodka for drinks?

While you are waiting for the vodka to turn into vanilla extract, it is perfect for a mixed drink. After about a week, you can make a great cocktail with your vanilla vodka. If you want to keep it for drinks, I would pour out the vodka so you can remove the vanilla beans, then strain it as you pour it back into the bottle so you don’t end up with seeds in your drinks.

What is your favorite vanilla vodka drink?

Share with us below so we can all try it!

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4 Responses

  1. i love all things vanilla!!! YUM!!!

  2. Sharon says:

    Thanks for this recipe. As much vanilla extract that I use, I definitely need to be making my own. I normally buy the little container, because of price, and when I look up, it’s already empty. Definitely gonna keep this in mind when my vanilla extract runs out.

    • Karen Goodman says:

      Keep in mind that it takes a few months for the vodka to turn into vanilla extract, so give it a try before you run out. I’ve also had several people do this as Christmas gifts. They make a big bottle, then use small bottles they pick up somewhere (or I’ve suggested reusing the single serve wine bottles which is what I use).

  3. Carolyn says:

    I’ve been wanting to try this for a while but didn’t have any vodka. Kept forgetting to buy it. But I do have half a bottle of Courvoisier cognac, so I used that. Why waste the cognac that hasn’t been touched in years – it should still make decent extract with maybe a slightly different nuance. I’ll let you know in a month!

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