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Homemade Vanilla Extract

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Make a batch of Homemade Vanilla Extract in June and you’ll have an amazing holiday gift for all your friends in December!

Learning How to Make Vanilla Extract is a breeze! With only two ingredients, it’s the easiest recipe you’ll ever follow! And your recipients will be thrilled.

Homemade Vanilla Extract in a decorative jar for gifting

Homemade Vanilla Extract

This easy homemade vanilla extract is the perfect gift for any baker you know. Just TWO ingredients! I made my first batch a couple of years ago, divvied it up, and gave it out to my book club friends at our holiday celebration.

It takes a little planning as the alcohol needs about six months to completely extract the vanilla flavoring. Oops, I’m a little late for this Christmas! But it’s one of the simplest things you’ll ever prepare.

Homemade Vanilla Extract in an open jar

Tips How to Make Vanilla Extract from Scratch

Within minutes, you’ll have this easy recipe ready to steep. It’s the least daunting holiday gift you’ll ever make!

  • Plan ahead. PRO-Tip: It takes 6 months for this pure vanilla extract to mature. If you want to give it as holiday gifts, make your bottle in June.
  • I’ve made this easy homemade vanilla extract with both bourbon and vodka.  Rum works, too. Note that you don’t need to buy top of the line liquor for this recipe. But don’t buy really, really cheap booze, either.
  • Place 12 vanilla beans, each sliced in half from top to bottom, into your 750 ml. bottle of liquor.
  • Store in a dark cabinet for 6 months to let the vanilla infuse into the liquor.
  • PRO-Tip: You can certainly give it as a gift before it matures. Make sure each bottle is garnished with a vanilla bean or two.  Just attach a note letting the recipient know when their batch will reach its peak. They will be so impressed this came from your kitchen!
  • I love splurging on labels from Felix Doolittle.

Where Does Vanilla Come From?

The vanilla orchid originated in Mexico and was held sacred by the Aztecs. When their empire fell, Cortez brought the vanilla pods back to Spain and introduced vanilla to the rest of the world. There are five major vanilla growing regions: Mexico, Madagascar, Tahiti, Indonesia, and Uganda. Vanilla from each area has its own flavor characteristics.

What is White Vanilla?

I was given a gift of white vanilla from last Christmas. It can be used to flavor white frostings without altering the color. But is it real vanilla? It’s actually a synthetic version of vanillin, the compound that gives vanilla its distinctive flavor. So it can’t be called pure vanilla extract, but it can be useful when a pure white color is preferred.

Does Vanilla Ever Go Bad?

Pure vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf life, meaning it won’t go bad. It’s best to store it in a cool dark place or decant into dark bottles. Imitation vanilla will have an expiration date on the box and is best used within 6-12 months, but it won’t harm you to use it if it’s only a month or two past it’s prime.

More holiday food gifts from the kitchen:

I’m always on the hunt for a new food gift for the holidays. I’ve spied a few across the blogosphere that have caught my attention like these seasonal Pumpkin Pie Spiced Nuts, this festive Cranberry Orange Bread, and the classic Banana Walnut Bread! Remember, it’s all about the presentation, so make sure to add some festive ribbon and a coordinating gift tag!

Homemade Vanilla Extract featured image

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Only 2 ingredients and some time and you can make homemade vanilla in your own kitchen!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 750 ml vanilla extract

Ingredients

  • 750 ml bottle of vodka, rum or bourbon*
  • 12 vanilla beans (I use Penzey's Madagascar vanilla beans)

Instructions

Pour out a couple tablespoons of your liquor of choice to make room for the vanilla beans. Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise. You may want to scrape out some of the seeds to add to the bottle, but this is not necessary.

Put all 12 split vanilla beans into the bottle. Gently agitate, then place in a dark cabinet. Give it a shake every day for the first week, then once every couple weeks.

Peak flavor occurs at 6 months and after, but it is usable before that. Strain vanilla at the 6 month mark, and store in a dark colored bottle.You may continue to top off the bottle with alcohol, and add more vanilla beans. You will never have to buy vanilla extract again.

Notes

*I used vodka with my first batch. It was easy to see the progress of the infusion using a clear color alcohol. This batch was made with bourbon.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

150

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 12Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

HOW MUCH DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?

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11 comments on “Homemade Vanilla Extract”

  1. What a great idea! Love all your yummy goodies!

  2. Lizzy…….I love your bottle. You know I never made any of my own before but as usual you have inspired me…….so maybe I can do it this year. Thanks for sharing…….Lambeau:-)

  3. Thanks, Ali 🙂

  4. How did you like it? Is it comparable to vanilla extract you buy? Gosh, didn’t know vanilla had so much alcohol in it. No wonder it tastes and smells so good.

  5. Lee, I thought I gave all my first batch away, but found that one container in my baking cupboard. It smells fabulous…so next time I whip up some chocolate chip bars, I’ll use it instead of my Nielsen-Massey and let you know.

    Erica, I knew you’d like that Lambeau picture!

  6. Looks great Lizzy…I have had a bottle in my cupboard for several years…I just keep topping it off and adding more beans. I have only tried it with vodka. Curious to know how you like it with bourbon or brandy.

  7. These are my sources for the amber bottles and labels~

    Bottles:
    http://www.SpecialtyBottle.com

    Labels:
    http://www.myownlabels.com

  8. Liz, I’m enjoying your site. I’ve copies several recipies (with liquor) lol to make for next Christmas.

    Our daughter made us Kahlua one year and I still have it. On cold mornings I add some to my coffee. BTW, which do you like better, Vodka or Bourbon?

  9. I love this recipe and the tips! The tips really helped me out! I will definitely be using this recipe again. Thank you!

  10. I am a huge fan of homemade vanilla! It makes a huge difference in all of my bake goods!

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