With just a little time and three ingredients you can make the yummiest vanilla extract at home. It’s incredibly easy and it makes a wonderful gift for your loved ones but be sure to keep a bottle or two for yourself!
Avoid Fake, Imitation Vanilla
I like making my own vanilla because I get to avoid the fake, imitation vanilla that is often sold in grocery stores. Be aware when buying store bought vanilla. We can be easily deceived. Read the ingredient label and make sure that you are buying real vanilla in its purest form, and not the synthetic, fake version known as “vanillin.” Vanillin is a chemically produced, imitation vanilla flavor that may have added, extra ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup and other fillers, So, again, make sure you are buying the real thing. Better yet, make your own!
Vanilla is Healthy
Vanilla has the most incredible aroma of almost any scent I know. It is high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a good source of manganese, copper, and riboflavin. I love adding vanilla to things I bake, but I also enjoy adding it in my smoothies for a great taste.
Here’s a “How To” on making Homemade Vanilla Extract:
There are two ways you can make this. One is using an alcohol base. The most common is with vodka, but you can also use bourbon, rum, or brandy. I suggest using alcohol for your base to get the best extraction, but I know some people refrain from using alcohol for health or personal reason, and that is totally fine. If the latter is the case for you, then you would want to use a glycerin base.
You will need three items: your alcohol or glycerin, vanilla beans, and dark glass containers.
- Alcohol or Glycerin–purchase at least a 40% alcohol (80 proof). It does not need to be expensive. I have used McCormick Vodka many times. You could also use bourbon, brandy, or rum. If you are not using alcohol, purchase a “food grade” vegetable glycerin. I purchased mine from Amazon.
- Vanilla Beans—vanilla beans can be expensive to purchase, but I promise you, it is well worth it. Because they are challenging to grow, they are one of the most expensive spices in the world. I found the best deal for high quality, organic, Madagascar vanilla beans online at Beanilla.com. Remember, if it’s a gift, it will be something that your receiver will appreciate. I go through a lot of vanilla in my home, and I love knowing I made it myself.
- Dark glass bottles—I bought a dozen “food grade”, four ounce amber glass round bottles from Amazon. You can also opt for an eight ounce bottle and use four vanilla beans.
Step 1: Rinse and then sterilize your glass bottles by slightly boiling for five minutes.
Step 2: Slice open two vanilla beans for each four ounce bottle. Scrape out the vanilla seeds. You will then want to cut your vanilla pods into smaller pieces, so they will fit nicely inside each bottle.
Note: You can use the vanilla seeds inside the vanilla pod for this extract or you can scrape them out and store them in a glass jar and use them for another recipe at a different time. There is enough oil from the pod alone to infuse beautifully into your vanilla extract.
Step 3: Put two sliced open, cut vanilla pods and seeds into your glass bottle and fill with alcohol or glycerin.
Step 4: Put on a counter (cabinet, or somewhere safe) and shake daily, if possible. You will want this to infuse for at least eight weeks.
Step 5: Label your organic, homemade vanilla extract and either enjoy yourself or give as gift to someone you love, or better yet, do both!
Homemade Vanilla Extract Ingredients
4 ounces of 40% alcohol (80 proof) vodka *
2 vanilla beans, organic, if possible
1 four ounce amber (dark) bottle, food grade
- Sterilize your glass bottles at a gentle boil for 5 minutes.
- Slice open two vanilla beans for each four ounce bottle you use. Scrape out the vanilla seeds. You will then want to cut your vanilla pods into smaller pieces, so they will fit nicely inside each bottle.
- Put the seeds and sliced, cut vanilla pods into your glass bottle and fill with alcohol.
- Put on a counter (cabinet, or somewhere safe) and shake daily, if possible. You will want this to infuse for at least eight weeks.
- Label your organic, homemade vanilla and either enjoy yourself or give as a gift to someone you love.
*You can use food grade vegetable glycerin instead of alcohol, or instead of using vodka, you can use bourbon, brandy or rum.
I used McCormick Vodka. It does not need to be expensive.
I purchased my food grade four ounce bottles from Amazon.
I bought my organic, Madagascar vanilla beans online from a company called Beanilla.
Vanilla seeds: you can use the vanilla seeds inside the vanilla pod for this homemade vanilla recipe or you can scrape them out, store them in a glass jar, and use them for another recipe.
Debbie Whitehead is a licensed professional counselor (M.Ed, LPC), certified personal trainer (CPT), and certified nutrition coach. She owns a practice in Plano, Texas where she helps clients break free from trauma and live a beautiful life – mind, body, and soul.