Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Do you know what this stuff is? Of course you do, it is vanilla extract. This particular bottle costs around $8 at Walmart. $8 for a 2 oz bottle of something. It grates on me that I have to pay that much for such a small amount. It's just not right! They have us over the proverbial vanilla barrel. So I decided to do something about it. Vanilla users of the world unite!

Do you know what this lovely elixir is?

It is homemade vanilla extract. Oh yes it is and it is awesome I can tell you. The smell is heavenly.

Here take a big sniff

Sniffffffffffffffffffff. Ahhhhhhhhh.

See, I told you that it is awesome.

Do you want to know how to make it? I will be glad to demonstrate.
These are the things that you need. It is so simple that it should be criminal. Just two ingredients. Good vanilla beans and average bourbon. A mason jar or other glass container with a tight fitting lid. How can you go wrong.

There are a couple of things that you should know. I would get vanilla beans that are long and lovely and plump. You know, reading that sentence it sounds like I am writing a bad romance novel. But I do have a hot and heavy romance with my homemade vanilla so perhaps it is appropriate. Hmmmmmm.

At any rate. Get good vanilla beans. It makes a difference in the taste of the final product.

And then there is the bourbon. Now I will admit that you can use other forms of alcohol to make your vanilla extract, I just prefer the bourbon. I have no idea why because I don't actually drink the stuff but it is what I use. And I should also tell you that you have to use High Proof alcohol (80 Proof or more) which means, at least in my state, that you have to go to an actual liquor store to get it. That was an experience let me tell you. I don't frequent liquor stores, I am more of the wine shop girl myself. So, I had to locate the closest liquor store and then I had to go there. And then I had to stand in front of a shelf with about a gazillion different choices for bourbon. Who knew that there were that many choices?? I immediately eliminated the stuff that was $40/bottle. That sort of defeats the purpose for making the stuff myself. I also eliminated the really low end stuff. It just seemed that a $6 bottle of alcohol wasn't what I wanted. So, I grabbed something middle of the road and went up to the counter where I was nearly bowled over by some woman "of a certain age" and bottle blonde hair color who was wanting to buy her 10 gallon jug of vodka. Having a party perhaps? No? Ummmm, well then, uh never mind. And then the woman who checked me out actually put my bottle in a, in a, in a .......brown paper bag. I slunk out of there hoping that no one saw me.

Where was I? Oh yes, vanilla extract.
First take the vanilla beans and gently split them down the center with a very sharp knife. Don't cut all the way through it and leave about 1 inch at the top that isn't cut.
Then you need to measure out 1 1/2 cups of bourbon.
Fold the vanilla beans in half and put them into the mason jar and then pour the bourbon in and seal it up. Give it a gentle shake. Then put it into your pantry and wait.
While you are waiting you could have one of these. Or perhaps about a thousand of them because you see you have to wait for a while for the extract to be ready. You need to wait two months to be exact. That is really how long it takes. Really. Every week or so you go into your pantry or broom closet or whatever dark, cool place you have the extract stored and give it a gentle shake. Open it up and take a good whiff, close it up, put it back and think of all the lovely things that you are going to make when the extract is done.

While you are waiting try to find a nice little bottle that you can put the extract in once it is finally done. Mine came from the thrift store and cost me all of 90 cents. Aren't I thrifty.

Now, go out and make your own vanilla extract.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

mason jar
high proof alcohol (80 proof or more) like bourbon or vodka
2 good vanilla beans
2 months of time.

With a sharp paring knife cut lengthwise down the center of the vanilla beans, leaving about an inch at the top of each bean that is uncut

Put the beans in the mason jar and cover with 1 1/2 cups of bourbon. You can add more if you want, just so that it covers the beans completely.

Tightly cover the jar and give it a good but gentle shake. Store in a cool, dry place for two months. Give the jar a gentle shake every week or so.


  1. Debbie, thanks for the recipe. You have convinced me to try it. I am soooo tired of paying that ridiculous price for a teensy leetle bottle o' vanilla! -Tammy

  2. Baaahhhh humbug. You make the rest of the world look bad. Yours Truly is far too lazy to make vanilla. Point me to the nearest Walmart, would you please?

  3. Thats it? Seriously? How can that be?

    I'm going to keep an eye out for inexpensive vanilla beans.

    Perhaps next year everyone gets homemade vanilla extract for presents.

  4. I'm on the same train of thought as Dandy. Christmas baskets next year will most likely have vanilla!
    Thanks for the recipe!!


  5. Thanks for sharing this and for the laugh along the way. I appreciate your sense of humor!


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