April 30, 2009

Homemade Vanilla Extract

this homemade vanilla smells and tastes heavenly!
Aren’t these old bourbon bottles pretty? Hubby decanted our homemade vanilla into these recycled bottles today. I won’t confide about what exactly happened to the original contents of the bottles, LOL. But I will share some information on how to make your own vanilla extract!

Please, don’t ever resort to buying and using synthetic vanilla. First of all, it is fake and vile. Ick. Second, if you are going through the trouble of baking, it is worth using quality ingredients. Third, you can make vanilla extract for a fraction of the cost for commercial products.

We learned about making the extract from an issue of Southern Living magazine in the 1980s, and we have been making it ever since. It can be made with vodka, rum, or bourbon. The batch pictured above was made with inexpensive vodka. For recipes and tips, there are several internet resources available, include the popular
Tipnut site.

Here’s what we do:
- Cut lengthwise 5 or 6 good quality vanilla beans.
- Add the beans to a 750-ml bottle of vodka.
- Store the bottle in a cool, dark location (e.g., pantry).
- Shake every couple of days for 6-8 weeks.
- Strain and transfer to clean, sterilized bottles.
- Add more vodka to the beans to make another batch.

How easy is that? Pour the extract into canning jars or recycled decorative bottles, and you have great homemade gifts, in addition to a personal stash!

Quality vanilla beans can be purchased via the internet if you don’t have a local source. Here are a couple of internet resources: Boston Vanilla Bean Company and
Penzys Spices. We used Madagascar beans for the latest batch and will use Mexican beans for the next one.

I hope that you give this a try sometime!


  1. OMGOSH! How simple is that..i just used the last of my vanilla a friend picked up in Mexico.. will order me some beans as i dont know of anywhere to get them local. THANKS!!!

  2. I will have to try that...I bet it makes a lovely gift. Right now, I am working om a HUGE bottle of real vanilla extract I got from Costco for a song.

    Those bottles are soooo pretty!

  3. That sounds very cool. I love the bottles and won't ask where the original contents went! LOL. Maybe you should give a bottle away for a giveaway, cause I'd want to win it! LOL. OH and thank you for the post cards you sent a while back. I meant to thank you for them and I can't remember if I did or not. You are too sweet!
    BIG hugs my friend.

  4. Thanks Donna!

    Off to buy me some beans =D

  5. Kim (The Real Me!)- Unfortunately, I can NOT do a giveaway for the vanilla! Think about it, LOL! It is flammable and it is alcohol! How many laws would I be breaking??? DH suggested the same thing to me this morning, and I said NO WAY, hahaha! Glad you got the post cards! I think you will be forever on my mailing list for vacation post cards unless you tell me to stop, LOL!

  6. you are so creative and resourceful, donna....always enjoy visiting and seeing what you are up to!!! thanks for sharing.....love those bottles!

  7. I'm adding this to my "Must do" list right now! I love "real" vanilla. The last bottle I had came from Mexico and I hoarded it.

  8. I actually have written on my list to buy vanilla...
    But now I will make it...easy,That is soooo easy!
    And it is very expensive to buy here and is only like a 20ml bottle!
    As I cook alot,I am trying this for certain!!!!!

  9. I WILL try this out!! You KNOW how expensive the Real McCoy is! Does Marty "empty" the bottles for you first??Hahaaaa..night Sugar!hughugs

  10. Is this to be used in the recipe that says.."add the flour and drink the vanilla"???LOL LOL
    I have never heard of making your own..mom used to bring it from Mexico, but ran out of that years ago and buying that yucky synthetic stuff...thanks for the instructions..sounds easy enough!

  11. You are correct my sweet friend. I didn't think of that! LOL. Darn it I guess I'll have to do it myself.
    And I am thankful that I am on your list forever because what's going to happen is it's going to give us all the places that WE will want to see when we get the time.
    Thank you so much!

  12. Hi Donna,

    I never knew you could make vanilla extract. Pretty cool and it sounds easy. So does it have a long shelf life? I love the photo with the recycled bottles, really like those bottles. Fun post, thanks!

  13. That vanilla extract sure sounds good. We used to make our own cherry, raspberry, blackberry and salmonberry cordials. Very similar process...

  14. Joan - This does have a long shelf life because of the alcohol. We've never had a batch go bad.

  15. I've gotten vanilla in Mexico, but never even thought of making it myself! Thanks for the information.

  16. Well #1, you know how dumb I am~I didn't know vanilla had vodka in it or I'd probably been drinkin' it. :)

    Just kidding!! I quit drinking a LONG time ago, like 25 years!!

    #2, never heard of anyone going to Mexico for vanilla.

    Okay, love those bottles, Donna!!


  17. I can't wait to try this. I am baking all the time and would love to make my own Vanilla. Thank you for sharing! :)


  18. Found you thru Penniwig's site and GLAD i did!! :) Thank you so much for sharing! i may have to give this a try!! Off to enjoy the REST of your blog!! hehe Have a TERRIFIC day! :)

  19. Does the different beans and choice of alcohol determine the taste of the Vanilla?
    Also I saw where you said to strain vanilla and refill jar. Do you reuse the beans. if so how many times? How do you store unused beans?
    Thanks Beccasmeme

  20. Deb Brown - We haven't tried Mexican beans before, so I can't confirm about whether the vanilla taste is going to be much differnt. We're steeping a couple of batches now with the Mexican ones. The type of alcohol will taste different, depending on how you use it. If you use it in cooking, you probably won't be able to tell any difference at all. But if you put a splash on fresh fruit, yes there should be a difference in taste.

    You can reuse the beans very successfully once. Store unused beans in a tightly sealed container in a cool place.


Marty, here! Donna loves comments, and I faithfully pass them on to her. Thank you so much for visiting!