Learn how to make vanilla extract – a beautiful vanilla gift with free printable labels. Once you have homemade vanilla, you’ll never purchase store bought again!
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is used in most dessert recipes including cakes, ice creams, cookies and so much more. Since vanilla gives desserts most of their flavor, a high quality vanilla extract should be used. If I’m purchasing vanilla, I always use this extract but I love making my own. It’s quick and easy to make vanilla extract and a lot less expensive, especially once you know where to buy vanilla beans. In fact, you can re-use the vanilla bean pods several times.
Homemade vanilla extract is the best way to get pure vanilla flavor to enhance your desserts. Homemade vanilla smells as great as it tastes, too!
What Type of Alcohol is Used in Vanilla Extract?
Did you know that vanilla extract is made from alcohol? That’s right! Essentially, you are macerating vanilla bean pods in vodka to make vanilla extract. In fact, I spent my early years of baking without ever considering exactly what that extract was! Sometimes when you grow up baking with mom and grandma, you never stop to really think about any of those ingredients we use regularly.
Vodka is most commonly used to make vanilla extract, however bourbon, rum and brandy can also be used. Vodka has the most neutral flavor which allows the vanilla beans to shine. Most of my recipes feature a classic vanilla extract flavor using vodka. However, a bourbon or brandy flavored option makes a fun vanilla gift, especially at the holidays! It’s a great way to experiment and find out what appeals to you!
Where to Buy Vanilla Beans
What is a Vanilla Pod?
Vanilla is one of the most rare spices on earth- in fact, it’s almost as expensive as saffron. This flavor-rich pod is part of the vanilla orchid, produced in three main regions in the world. (Mexico, Madagascar and Tahiti) The most classic or common vanilla flavor is Madagascar, and that’s the vanilla pod you’re most likely to find when you search!
Choosing the Best Vanilla Beans by Grade
Vanilla beans are graded by their moisture and quality. Grade A is the best, and Grade B vanilla beans are generally used for making vanilla extract! Save a little money by choosing a B Grade vanilla.
How to Make Vanilla Extract
Split vanilla beans lengthwise. By splitting your beans, or snipping into small bits, you expose more surface area, which makes a better extract.
Place in a bottle.
Using a funnel, fill with alcohol.
Store in a dark cabinet for a at least a month. 3+ months is optimal, shaking occasionally.
Beans can be used for a year – just refill with vodka. If you feel your vanilla extract is weak, just add a few more beans.
A good rule of thumb is 6 vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol.
How to Make a Vanilla Gift
To gift vanilla, you’ll want pretty glass bottles. I prefer amber bottles! Why? Vanilla, like most oils and extracts, is best stored in dark bottles in a dark area to maintain both freshness and flavor.
Where to Use This Homemade Vanilla Extract
- Homemade vanilla ice cream
- Easy strawberry shortcake
- Blueberry muffins
- Homemade whipped cream
- Cream Cheese Fruit Dip
This Vanilla Gift is the perfect gift for birthdays, Mother’s Day, shower favors and more! It’s also an indulgent, pretty gift for neighbors, foodie friends on your holiday list, or hostess. Why not get started now? If you make this homemade vanilla extract, I’d love to see! Please share here or over at Celebrating Simple, my Facebook share group.
Need help with baking conversions? Check out my Essential Measurement Conversion Chart
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- 6 whole vanilla beans
- 1 cup alcohol vodka, rum, brandy or bourbon
- Split vanilla beans lengthwise. By splitting your beans, or snipping into small bits, you expose more surface area, which makes a better extract.
- Place in a bottle.
- Using a funnel, fill with alcohol.
- Store in a dark cabinet for a at least a month.
- Shake occasionally.
- By splitting your beans, or snipping into small bits, you expose more surface area, which makes a better extract.
- Storing for 3+ months is optimal, shaking occasionally.
- Beans can be used for a year - just refill with vodka. If you feel your vanilla extract is weak, just add a few more beans.
- Vodka is most commonly used to make extract, but try using bourbon or brandy for a fun, flavorful twist.