DIY vanilla extract is incredibly easy and costs roughly one-third of what you pay at the grocery store. With just 2 ingredients and a lot of patience you can have the satisfaction of completing another DIY and putting a few dollars back in your pocket.
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There were two motivations for wanting to make my own vanilla extract: self sufficiency and cost. Have you seen the price of store-bought vanilla extract lately? I love to bake, which requires quite a bit of vanilla extract. Also, I prefer using pure and organic extract which costs close to $5/oz at my local grocery store, which is insane! I was tired of having to spend that much so frequently and love a good DIY so I dove into researching. Turns out, its super simple to make but the extraction process is quite long. It is one of those projects with very few minutes of hands-on time but then you have to put it away and forget about it (kind of) for a few months.
The main ingredient in vanilla extract is the whole vanilla beans or vanilla pods. There are different varieties and different flavors of vanilla beans but I would suggest choosing between Madagascar vanilla beans, Tahitian vanilla beans and Mexican vanilla beans. Personally I use these Madagascar vanilla beans. They were decently priced and organic. The general consensus throughout my research was that Madagascar vanilla beans made the best vanilla extract. There’s also different grades of vanilla beans. Basically Grade A vanilla beans are moist, prettier and more expensive. Grade B vanilla beans are slightly more dry, less expensive and not as aesthetically pleasing as Grade A vanilla beans. However, Grade B beans are more concentrated and perfect for this homemade vanilla extract recipe.
High Quality Alcohol
The second ingredient is some form of high quality alcohol. The best alcohol options are vodka, rum or brandy. I chose vodka because it is the closest to flavorless allowing a bolder vanilla flavor (and also my local liquor store carries organic vodka).
Lastly, you’ll need a glass bottles with a tight-fitting lid. If you plan on making a large batch I would suggest mason jars but if you’d prefer smaller batches or want to gift this extract I would suggest something like this– they are smaller bottles and I use them for various kitchen projects. They are roughly the length of the vanilla bean making it super easy to submerge the entire bean and will hold the 8 ounces of alcohol.
Single Fold vs Double Fold
Fold is just how the FDA measures the potency of the vanilla extract. Single fold is typically what you would buy from the grocery store. Double-fold vanilla extract has twice as many vanilla beans but the same amount of alcohol making double fold much more potent.
Making Your Own Vanilla Extract
- Take 3-4 vanilla beans and split longways with a sharp knife. You don’t want to cut all the way through, just enough to expose some of the beans from inside.
- Place your split beans (the whole bean) in your glass jar and fully submerge them in vodka (or bourbon/rum).
- You want to use 3-4 beans for every 8 ounces of alcohol.
- Place a tight fitting cap on your jar and give it a good shake.
- Place in a dark place (out of direct sunlight) at room temperature and give it a good shake every couple of days.
- Wait at least 8 weeks to use it but for best results wait 6+ months.
That’s it! The whole process is super simple recipe and if you start by June these would make incredibly cute Christmas gifts! Let me know in the comments if this is on your to-do list. If you’re interested in the label I have created, get it HERE. I made these to fit the Avery 2″x2″ labels because they fit my glass jars PERFECTLY, but feel free to resize and adjust however you prefer!
DIY Vanilla Extract
- 3-4 whole vanilla beans
- 8 oz vodka rum or bourbon would suffice
- Slit 3-4 vanilla beans lengthwise just enough to expose beans
- Place the beans in an 8oz glass jar
- Submerge means in 8oz of vodka
- Place cap on jar and store out of direct sunlight
- Allow mixture to infuse for at least 8 weeks but 6+ months is more optimal