You need only two ingredients to make Vanilla Extract. Good quality Vanilla Bean pods and a decent bottle of Vodka, Bourbon or Gin. It'll take at least 6 months before you have a good optimum flavour. The best Vanilla Extract is the one you make. Be patient, it's worth waiting for.
Because of the length of time it takes for the flavours to infuse into the alcohol, why not make a batch now. In 6 - 8 months time, or longer if you can bear to wait that length of time you will have the best flavoured vanilla extract.
A little patience is needed while you wait for the flavours to brew. But it'll be worth the wait. TIP: Once you've used the contents of the first bottle, DO NOT throw the old pods away, keep them in the bottle, you'll be able to top it up with more vodka and additional Vanilla Pods. It'll mature while you're using the second bottle. Although between now and then, I'll probably have more bottles maturing so that I have an uninterrupted supply.
What variety of Vanilla Pods to use?
Over the years Vanilla pods have become a very expensive commodity. Many vanilla farmers are having to do what they can to protect their crops from thieves and poachers. There are several kinds of Vanilla Pods that you can use.
- Madagascar Vanilla
- Mexican Vanilla
- Tahitian Vanilla
- Uganda Vanilla
You can buy individual Vanilla Pods at the supermarkets. If you buy in bulk online, make sure you buy a good quality product from a reputable supplier.
How to make Homemade Vanilla Extract.
Have ready 2 x 250ml bottles that are thoroughly cleaned and washed, with suitable secure tops. Add 6 large vanilla pods to each one. Fitting them into the bottles is easier if you place the curved end of the Vanilla Pod in first.
Fill each bottle with vodka, making sure you cover the vanilla pods as much as you can. Then secure the top and give them a little shake. Place the bottles in a cool dark place for at least 6 months. Give each bottle a shake every week or so.
After only 10 days you can already see the difference in colour. Although it isn't anywhere near ready to use, you can imagine, how luxuriously dark and flavoursome it will be after 6 months and longer.
Do you need to slice the Vanilla Pods?
I don't always slice the pods before adding them to the bottles. That's because I want to squeeze out the flavoured Vanilla Bean Paste from some of the beans when the extract is ready.
When you are ready to extract the paste, first, snip the end of a pod and then squeeze out the contents. Pop the bean back into the bottle to continue infusing the vodka. You can use the flavoured paste in your baking and cooking as normal.
How to Make Vanilla Extract in a Vodka Bottle
You can make large quantities of Vanilla Extract directly into a Vodka bottle using a minimum of 12 large Vanilla Pods. Before you add the pods, pour out some of the Vodka into a jug. Add the vanilla pods to the Vodka Bottle, if you wish, you can slice a few of the beans to release the Vanilla Seeds into the Vodka. Top up with the remaining vodka making sure all the vanilla beans are covered.
Secure the top and give the bottle a good shake then store it in a cool dark cupboard while it matures, remember to give it a shake every week or so. Create small bottles of Vanilla Extract using any excess Vodka or keep in a small bottle to top up later.
While you're waiting for the Vanilla to infuse, take a look at some of my Vanilla flavoured recipes.
Easy Vanilla Buttermilk Scones
Vanilla sheet cake with white chocolate frosting and strawberries
Vanilla Bundt Cake with a Blueberry Sauce
Valentine Vanilla Shortbread with white chocolate drizzle
How to make a Victoria Sponge Cake
FAQ's about Making Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract has a stronger, purer vanilla flavour. While Vanilla essence is made using artificial flavours and colours. There's quite a difference in taste between the two with Vanilla Extract being the best flavour, especially when home made.
One of the ways Vanilla Extract is made is by soaking Vanilla Beans in Alcohol for several months, allowing all the flavours to infuse.
A minimum of 6 large Vanilla Beans is needed to make a small 250ml bottle of Vanilla Extract. However, the Vanilla Beans themselves will take up some of the volume.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- 2 x 250ml glass bottles.
- 12 large Vanilla Bean pods Make sure they are of good quality with no mould.
- 500 ml Vodka Gin or Bourbon are great alternatives.
- Have ready 2 x 250ml bottles with a suitable secure tops. Clean and dried.
- Add 6 large vanilla pods, unsliced, to each one. Fitting them into the bottles is easier if you place the curved end, of the vanilla pod, in first.
- Fill each bottle with vodka, making sure you cover the vanilla pods as much as you can. Secure the top and give them a little shake.
- Store in a cool dry place for at least 6 months. Give them a good shake every week or so.
- The Vanilla Extract will be ready to use after about 6 months.
How long does the extract last once made Lynn?
Hi Kerry. Because of the alcohol content, it should keep almost indefinitely. However. Storage is important. Keep in a cool dark place away from any direct sunlight. I keep mine in a cupboard and not on a shelf which would expose it to unnecessary light and heat.
I used Spiced Rum as the alcohol and it worked really well
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll remember that when I do another batch. I imagine using that particular Vanilla would be great for using in fruit cakes, to enhance any spice flavours already added.