homemade vanilla extract

Recently I read on another blog how to make your own vanilla extract. It so super simple I couldn’t believe it! 2 ingredients….vodka and vanilla pods. No artificial colorings, corn syrup, water or added sugars. From what I have read, it doesn’t matter if you use inexpensive vodka or pricey. I am going for money saving so I will pick the least expensive. 022

After pricing vanilla pods, (I’m going to call them pods…isn’t what you scrape from the insides the beans???) it looks like Ebay is the cheapest. I ordered 20 Tahitian Vanilla Pods for a little over $7 (that included shipping). Even through their vacuum sealed package they smelled divine!

Lets get started on the extract:

750ml bottle of vodka
12 whole vanilla pods
Dark Rum (optional)

If you want to make a smaller bottle:
2oz bottle
1/4c Vodka
1 vanilla pod

Split your beans lengthwise using kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Leave at least 1” connected at one end.
Push the beans into the vodka bottle (I decided to use a mason held all of the vodka with room to spare) If you use the vodka bottle the beans are going to displace some of your vodka so add a splash or two to your orange or cranberry juice.
Screw the lid on tightly and store in a cool, dry place. Shake the bottle once or twice a day for the first couple of days. It will take a couple of months for the beans to steep in the vodka, you can use it sooner if you are in a rush. Store it well and it will last for years.
Use a funnel and transfer it to smaller bottles if you would like. Add a splash of dark rum if you choose while the beans are steeping. If you use some of your vanilla while its steeping add more vodka. When the 2 months are up you can remove the pods, dry them and use them for other purposes. I am thinking of making vanilla sugar.
Some recipes I have read say to strain the extract after you remove the pods. Why would you do that? I am going to leave as is….straining would remove the delicious flecks of beans, right????

Organic vs. Non-organic….sure, you can pay more for certified organic beans if you wish. Different countries have different standards for organic certification. From what I have read certification is done by the country that the product is grown in….for example for those of us here in the US, the USDA cannot certify Mexican vanilla pods as organic. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Virtually all vanilla pods are grown in third world countries…the orchids are pollinated and harvested by hand. These poor rural farmers cannot afford pesticides and fertilizers. You choose J
And just think...for a little over $13 you dont have to use this

You don’t have to limit yourself with vanilla extract…you can also make orange, lemon, cinnamon and almond extract. Maybe more, but that was what I had came across.
In about 2 months, this should be done...don't forget to give it a shake.


julochka said...

i've been trying to send my sister back to barbados for vanilla, but this looks like a good backup plan. we use vanilla pods as vanilla here anyway (keeping the black flecks - i've come to think of them as a sign of poshness). you definitely found the vanilla pods cheaper on eBay - they're about $5 for 2, which come in a test tube kind of container in the grocery store. but they are useful and i have a jar of sugar that i throw the pods into after I scrape out the black bits on the inside into a recipe.

i'd also advise that you can use the ones you take out in jams and fruit purees and crumbles - when i'm cooking up strawberries/rhubarb for a crumble, i always throw a hunk of vanilla pod in. then i fish it out to use it again - they actually can be reused several times before their goodness is exhausted.

hmm, i was going to the store anyway, i think i'll check out the vodka supplies and get a batch of this going. husband's working on my cool, dark pantry as we speak, so it will be perfect for storing the bottle while it's steeping.

Palmer said...

Definitley posh! However, I am tooooo cheap to pay $5+ for 2 pods in the store...that is if I can find them. Ebay was the way to go, I think that I got 20 pods for $7.12 and that included shipping.
Good idea on the fruit purees and crumbles..homemade yogurt would probably be good too, or jam/jelly???? mmmmm, oh and pie!
There is a vanilla pod seller in France with free shipping (Ebay)
$9.99 (US) for 25 pods.

julochka said...

ok, now you've got me bidding on vanilla pods. :-)

Palmer said...

;) I was looking at more too...I have 8 left. Must make something today with them!

rayfamily said...

Very cool! I always go through a ton of vanilla extract, especially with fall and winter cooking. I'm headed to eBay this morning and going to get a batch under way!! & Julie, I didn't know you could re-use beans like that! Great tips ladies :)

Debby said...

And your recipe is gluten-free. Something I just found out that alot of vanilla is made from grain vanilla (?) not the bean, therefore it has gluten.

Anneli/Bockfilz said...

Great posting and interesting comments too!

So far, I only knew of different herbs and vegetables you could put into your oil and vinegar bottles! (And fruit and berries into the German 'Rumtopf', of course!)