Homemade vanilla extract couldn’t be easier to make. Plus, I couldn’t believe the difference homemade vanilla extra made in my baked goods. Make your own with two simple ingredients: vanilla beans and vodka.
There is nothing I appreciate more than the smell of freshly baked cookies, muffins, and sweet breads coming from my kitchen. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to come home to my husband baking a batch of pumpkin bars or chocolate chips cookies. We love to bake in our house. Over the last few years we have embraced the idea of making our kitchen staples from scratch. Sometimes this can be challenging. Who has enough time to make homemade loaves of bread and pasta? Luckily, vanilla extract is easy to make and lasts!
Why Make Vanilla Extract
Okay! I hear you. Why not simply buy the big bottle of McCormick that you’ve been using for years. I have a few reasons why you should make the switch. First of all, vanilla extract has become extraordinarily expensive! Making vanilla extract can seem pricier at first, but over the long run you save a lot of money by making your own.
Second, that stuff you buy at the grocery store doesn’t hold a candle to homemade vanilla extract. You can take your baking to a whole different level with this stuff! Rich and complex, homemade vanilla extract has a distinctly different flavor and aroma than store-bought.
What Type of Beans Should I Use?
First, there are lots of different types of vanilla beans. In fact, I was overwhelmed the first time I searched for vanilla beans on amazon. The most popular is the Madagascar vanilla bean. This bean is rich and creamy and is an excellent choice for your vanilla extract HOWEVER my favorite beans to use are Tahitian. Tahitians beans have a more distinct flavor and tend to be on the fruitier side than their Madagascar counterparts.
Other options include Mexican and Indian beans, although I’ve never tried these varieties.
Grade A beans are called “gourmet” beans. You are probably thinking that these are what you should go with. After all, typically good things are associated with an A grade, but that’s not the case when it comes to vanilla beans. It is easier to extract the essence out of grade B beans since the moisture content is lower.
Here are the beans I used.
How to Store Your Beans
Make sure to wrap your beans in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. Store the container in a dark, cool place like the back of your pantry. Don’t make the mistake of allowing your beans to dry out. Even better, use a vacuum sealer to keep your beans fresh longer.
How to Make Vanilla Extract
First thing first, find a container to use for your extract. I used a swing top bottle this time around, but I have used a mason jar.
Next, cut your beans. Some people cut their beans in half but my trick is to trim the edges and roll the bean out exposing the seeding. Cutting the beans in half can be tricky! You need approximately 5 beans per 8 ounces of liquid. I used 11 beans for 2 cups of vodka.
Finally, pour your vodka over the vanilla beans. Voila…. Homemade vanilla extract. Shake your vanilla extract every day for a week and then back down to once per week. This vanilla extract can be used after 12 weeks but for best results hold off until your brew has aged for 4 months.
- Airtight, glass bottle or jar
- 8 ounces 80 proof vodka
- 5 vanilla beans
- Open up your vanilla beans to expose the seeds.
- Put your seeds in an airtight, glass container.
- Pour your vodka over the vanilla beans ensuring that the beans are completely covered in liquid.
- Shake your bottle once a day for a week. Then shake your bottle every couple of weeks for maintenance.
Tips and Tricks for Making Homemade Vanilla Extract
- Make sure not to make the fatal mistake I made the first time I made this recipe, and forget to completely cover your beans. This will result in moldy beans which is no good for baking.
- As time goes on, top of with more vodka and beans. Remember, always keep your beans covered!
- Store this in a cool, dark place. I keep mine in the very back of my pantry.