condiment, recipe

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, which you might have guessed simply by its exorbitant cost at the grocery store. Sometimes I would try to compensate with artificial vanilla extract, but it just didn’t cut it for me.

So I took it as my mission to make my own: for future gifts to friends and family (what a great gift these would be!), but also to show my readers just how far you can take the concept of ‘homemade foods’!

So I bought a pack of 20 boston round bottles (4 oz) off the internet, 50 vanilla pods from Ebay, and cute ribbon I found at Winners. Finding the time to actually make the stuff was the main dilemma… until today. So, I grabbed some vodka and some rum and got to work!

Making vanilla extract is dead easy. The tough part is waiting for them to soak! The bottles needs to be packed away in the dark for at least two months, shaken every few weeks, until the actual vanilla is ‘extracted’ from the vanilla pod! Without this waiting time, you’ve got bottles of vodka with floating vanilla pods. You might regret adding that to a dessert!

I used two different types of alcohol out of interests sake: rum and vodka. Rum has a sweeter flavour and will add a richness to the vanilla extract. Vodka, on the other hand, is comparably less flavourful and so it will allow the pure taste of vanilla to come through. I suppose it depends entirely on your own preference! For my next batch, I am going to use brandy.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ingredients:

– vanilla pods (you will need about 5 pods per cup of alcohol… I used 2-3 pods per 4 oz bottle)
– alchohol: vodka, rum, or brandy (a 4 oz bottle holds 1/2 cup liquid)
– *bottles/jars/cans/anything with a tight lid
– decorations and labels, if you wish

Directions:

1.  fill your clean bottle(s) with alcohol
2. Cut your vanilla pods in half if you are using shorter bottles (you want them to be able to fit inside), and using a sharp knife, cut a seam down the length of the pods. You don’t need to cut all the way through, just enough to allow the alcohol to seep inside.
3. Put your cut vanilla pods into the bottles, and seal tightly. Decorate as you desire
4. Leave it to ferment in a dark box for at least 2 months, shaking them gently every 1-2 weeks. You can leave them for up to 6 months for a more intense flavour.

*Note: it is important to use clean bottles, or you risk contaminating your extract.

Did you try the recipe, and use another kind of alcohol? Let me know in the comments! Both me and other readers are curious what works.

  • Wow Hilary, I never EVER thought of making pure vanilla extract! I'd assumed it was something alchemists created in small wooden vats, far from prying eyes, and occasionally sold at exorbitant rates. Thank you.

  • Glad this one peaked your interest! 🙂