A Baker’s Dream! How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

This exquisite brew is a baker’s essential ingredient and once you discover how deep and rich a homemade batch can be…only a personally steeped concoction will do! Stash a bottle in the pantry for your own use (and you’ll never run out again) but also keep a jar on hand for last minute gift-giving, it will surely be appreciated.

I’ve been making and brewing homemade vanilla for decades so if you’re ready to learn how to make your own…you’ve come to the right place ;).

Supplies needed to begin: Alcohol (such as vodka or brandy), vanilla beans and glass jars or bottles. That’s it!

Quick Tip: Try experimenting with different varieties of beans (ie. Madagascar & Tahitian) to sample all the flavor notes each has to offer, even try combining one or two different types in the same jar to obtain a custom blend.

If you live in a “food desert” and don’t have a lot of selection at your local grocery store, there are all kinds of shops from around the world online and they’re happy to ship the most exotic beans you could ever desire!

One of the perks of making homemade extract: You can develop and infuse a personalized flavor profile that can’t be beat.

Ready to get started? You’ve hit the jackpot with this mega tutorial! It’s taken the internet by storm since first being published in 2007 but I’ve improved it even more since then by updating/refining the information and better organizing the collection of recipes.

I’ve also compiled a bunch of tips and added a frequently asked questions section at the bottom of this article. Have fun!

Three Quick & Easy Extract Recipes

  1. Place one bean into a pint of vodka. Shake daily for two weeks.
  2. Scrape the seeds from three beans and add them to a bottle of dark rum, add the pods as well. Let sit for three weeks, shaking occasionally.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup vodka or white tequila into small saucepan, and heat until it smokes but isn’t boiling. Break 2 beans into pieces and place into a mason jar. Pour the alcohol over top and cover tightly. Let sit for a week, shaking frequently.

A Deeper Flavored, Stronger Homemade Batch

  • Split 7 beans end-to-end with a sharp knife. Add these to a .750 liter (1/5) bottle of rum, vodka, everclear, scotch, brandy, or alcohol of choice.
  • Let stand for three to four weeks before using.
  • When bottle is 1/4 full add three to four more beans and more alcohol.
  • Let stand for another week before using.
  • Seeds may float in the syrupy liquid but unless the finished product is being given as a gift, don’t remove them–they only add to the flavor.
  • Use one-forth to one-third the amount called for in most recipes as this has a very strong flavor.
  • The beans are good as long as a vanilla scent is present. Once the scent is lost, discard and replace with fresh ones. They can also be removed from the alcohol base and either scraped or chopped then used in place of the extract (for stronger flavor). Or you can remove them from the alcohol, dry each thoroughly and stick them into a canister of sugar to infuse their flavor.

Traditional No-Fail Method

(Yields 8-ounces)

1/2-pint Vodka
4 Vanilla beans
Mason jar or seal tight container
Decorative bottle

  • Pour vodka into container.
  • Using a sharp kitchen knife, cut a lengthwise slit down the middle of each bean.
  • Cut them into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces then add to container and shake.
  • Wait and shake. It will take 30-days for the brew to mature. Once each day, vigorously shake the container for 30-seconds.
  • Once the 30-day cycle has finished, strain the liquid through a colander or coffee filter and place in decorative bottle.

Brandy Batch

(Yields 8-ounces)

1 cup Brandy
1 whole vanilla bean

  • Place items into seal-tight container.
  • Wait. It will take 3-weeks to cure properly.
  • Pour into decorative bottle.

Corn Syrup Addition

  • Start with 1 cup of vodka, brandy, or real extract.
  • Add 2-3 Tablespoons of corn syrup, stir or shake to dissolve.
  • Finely chop 3 or more pods (depending on strength desired); add to bottle.
  • Store in a cool place; stir or shake occasionally to mix ingredients.
  • As the contents are used, top it up occasionally with additional liquid (vodka, brandy, or extract) and a bit more corn syrup; about once a year add a couple more finely chopped pods.

Tips

  • Stronger: Use a high proof of alcohol and scrape the seeds loose from the bean before adding them to the jar.
  • Weaker: Use a lesser proof of alcohol and soak with beans/pod intact.
  • To strain for storage: Use a very fine strainer, coffee filter, or paper towel.
  • Vodka usually gives the highest alcohol content. Brandy adds additional flavor which some folks may or may not prefer.
  • Corn syrup or sugar helps infuse and develop the flavor from the pods (corn syrup dissolves more easily).
  • Using a combination of pods (Madagascar, Indonesia, Tahitian, Mexican) will produce a brew with a much more complex taste and aroma. Try using Madagascar as a base, adding Tahitian and Mexican for additional fragrance notes.
  • Shake container before each use. Small flecks will be in the liquid and these provide additional flavor. Dark flecks in light-colored food may also appear, if you find this unappealing and want to avoid this, don’t shake the jar before pouring.
  • Occasionally spoon out some of the mass of pods that settle to the bottom of the jar for when a very intense taste is desired (to use in things like ice cream or butter/vanilla pretzel cookies). You’re welcome! 😉
  • Have a brew jar always on the go and every summer make sure it’s topped up so you’ll have enough on hand when it’s time for holiday baking.
  • The shelf life of pure extract is indefinite and it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see an expiry date on it (for both purchased and homemade varieties). Since there is such a high alcohol content, it won’t spoil or harbor bacteria like other pantry items. In fact, it develops better as it ages! Careful storage does help preserve it, keep it in a cool, dark spot so the taste doesn’t deteriorate (that’s why many different brands are sold in dark bottles).

Vanilla Beans: Q&A

  • What’s their shelf-life and is the one I have still good to use? As long as they are moist enough to be pliable without breaking and there is no sign of mold growth, they’re still good to use. Stored in a cool, dark location, a shelf life of approximately one year can be expected.
  • If one is on the dry side, try sealing it in a container with a sliced wedge of potato or apple, this should help it regain some moisture. It’s also possible to rehydrate by soaking in a bit of warm water (do this right before using).
  • There is white stuff coming out of it while it’s soaking in the brew, is this mold? It’s highly unlikely that it’s moldy, but that white stuff you’re seeing is not an illusion–it’s surely vanillin that is oozing out. Congratulations! This is a much looked for sign of good quality! On cured pods of high quality, relatively pure vanillin may be visible as a white dust or “frost” on the exterior of it. See Wikipedia.org for more info.
  • Why are they so expensive and where can I find them locally? These are the “fruit” of an orchid grown in climates like Mexico and are harvested only after certain conditions are met so there is some effort and expense to producing quantities. It’s possible to locate them in the spice section of the local grocery store, if not try the baking supplies or the international foods aisle.
  • Directions for scraping out the seeds: Slice it in half lengthwise then use the tip of a knife to scrap out the tiny seeds. If you are just using the seeds, keep the emptied shell to use in baking or to infuse in sugar (see instructions at the bottom of this page).
  • Storage guidelines: Keep in the tubes until needed (that’s how they’re usually purchased). Refrigeration can cause them to dry out quicker so keep in the pantry (or cupboard) in the dark and are protected from heat and moisture. Don’t store near the stove/oven since heat can degrade it and its taste.
  • Can they be frozen? Yes but there is some flavor and quality degradation, I wouldn’t freeze them unless I had a bunch on hand that I knew there was no way I could use within a year.

Final Notes

As you see from above, learning how to make your own extract is a breeze…and hard to mess up. Once you get started brewing your own, you’ll find yourself experimenting with different flavor notes, strengths, alcohol types, etc. If something isn’t strong enough for your liking, just let everything steep longer. Too strong? Top up with more alcohol. So easy to adjust and tweak as you go!

If you have a “perfect flavor jar”, you might want to leave it alone and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Typically though you’ll just top up the bottle with alcohol every so often or maybe toss in another pod or two once in awhile. After the initial expense of making the first batch, it’s very economical to just keep things topped up as needed. You’ll literally never be buying a commercial brand again and find yourself nurturing your own homemade batch for years to come :).

Starter brews make great gifts for friends who bake. Include the basic instructions and a few extra pods in case they want to make an even stronger batch for themselves or maybe try their hand at starting a new bottle. Don’t be shy…please feel free to print off and share this tutorial with them too! 🙂

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Comments

    • keith
    Reply

    Guys: From the FDA 21CFR169 it says 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of extract is single fold (single strength) vanilla extract. As most vanilla beans are ~120/pound or 7.5 beans per ounce of weight. A gallon of extract is 128 fluid ounces, so that would mean ~98 beans per gallon or SIX (6) whole beans to make ONE cup (8 fluid ounces) of single fold vanilla extract.

    Anyone who tells you any differently is just teaching you how to make vanilla flavored booze.

      • TipNut
      Reply

      I always thought Vanilla Extract was vanilla flavored or infused booze. Whatever it is, homemade vanilla booze or extract or alcohol infusion is heavenly to cook with, much more flavor than store bought IMO.

    • ian
    Reply

    keith is right…however, if you have really nice beans with heavy crystals (Grade A) they will go a lot further than grade B extract beans.

    Still, I get the highest quality beans I can in 1/4 pounds and make ~750ml of extract liquor from good vodka. I have also read that extract gets better with age like a fine wine, rather than having an expiration date. Beans only stay fresh for a year or so.

      • Marie
      Reply

      you are right and wrong. Of course you can make 1/4 POUND of beans into a FIFTH of vodka… in fact that is MORE than the government requires… you just cant do it well with the measly couple of beans this article suggests. As to “high quality” vs “extract grade” “high quality beans are only needed, or even BEST when they are used straight up, for extracts you neither NEED nor WANT the extra moisture (which is the ONLY thing that really differentiates grade A from grade B, grade B have less of their natural moisture retained, are dried for longer, and their flavor is, therefore, actually intensified.. something i just got hit pretty hard with, when i added a quarter pound of forgotten beans from two christmasses ago to a fifth of vodka and by the next DAY had fragrant, dark, vanilla.. i cannot WAIT to see how good it is at Christmas time… its already heavenly!! And you are absolutely right about extract getting better with age.. i kept a bottle going for three years and every time i opened it it was like heaven… sooooo good. And since i never use sugar or corn syrup (!!!) in my vanilla, i even dabbed a bit behind my ear every once in a while, drove hubby wild trying to figure out the new perfume LOL. OH and as i mentioned in my story, properly wrapped and kept away from air and light, vanilla beans, whole, fresh vanilla beans, can last far longer than a year ;). Yum. Happy baking!!

      • Robin Lancaster
      Reply

      Optimal 12 months aging.
      Easy to remember 1oz in 1 cup ratio.
      Check out VANILLA BEAN CO-OP ON FB, INDRIVANILLA COMPANY ❤ Inexpensive and THE BEST

    • Cliff
    Reply

    Any suggestions for non-alcoholic vanilla extract? I’m a teetotaler!

      • Jen
      Reply

      This is an alcohol free recipe from a local radio station. I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know how it compares.

      Alcohol Free Version:
      2 vanilla beans
      12 oz glycerin
      4 oz warm water
      Slit bean down middle and scrape downs seeds. Place both in glycerin and warm water. (softens pod) Place in dark place. Let sit for a month or so. Shake often.

        • Holly Jones
        Reply

        Thanks for the nonalcoholic version! Can’t wait to try it!

          • Nicole
          Reply

          Hello! Thanks for sharing your info and knowledge with us!

          I currently have my vanilla extract “brewing” it’s only been 2 months. I noticed my alcohol is evaporating. I don’t have any more beans to add. Should I add more vodka? Thank you!

      • triso
      Reply

      Don’t worry about cooking with alcohol. The alcohol evaporates before the water in most cooked foods.

        • James
        Reply

        Urban Legend! It takes HIGH heat and long cooking periods for the alcohol to cook off. Google it, there are millions of articles on it.

          • cc3
          Reply

          James is right…my husband is allergic to alcohol..he tried some seafood cooked with wine once and threw up 5 minutes later. Vanilla extract in uncooked food makes his stomach burn. The googling I did said it needs to at least simmer 30 minutes.

      • Levi
      Reply

      Just scrape a bean pod and put the seeds into your reciepe. Have you ever used vanilla from the store? It’s got just as much alcohol if not more than homemade. Also, you’d better not use almond, coconut, or any other extract. Full of alcohol. For shame!!!

      • Barb
      Reply

      If you have ever used bought vanilla extract you just thought you were a tetotaler. Or any extract for that matter, and many other foods.

    • TipNut
    Reply

    Not that I can think of Cliff, sorry. But you can substitute vanilla extract with vanilla powder, it contains no alcohol.

      • Billz
      Reply

      yes but Vanilla powder is a mixture of ground vanilla beans or vanilla oleoresin or both with one or more of the following optional blending ingredients (a) Sugars, (b) dextrose, (c) Lactose, (d) Food Starch, (e) dried corn syrup, (f) Gum acacia.

      So unless the ingrediants specify what is really in there, you dont really know.

    • Ryan
    Reply

    Yeah but Cliff, most people cook with vanilla extract, which causes the alcohol to evaporate off anyway.

    • HeilalaVanilla
    Reply

    Another option is to chop the vanilla beans up with a food processor. This has the benefit of both releasing the seeds and also exposing maximum surface area of the bean to the alcohol for maximum infusion.

    • mudz
    Reply

    I placed 3 vanilla beans in a 375ml Jamaca rum to make vanilla extract today. I realized that that are some white stuff, but coming out from the vanilla beans. Is my vanilla extract edible? Thanks!

    • TipNut
    Reply

    What kind of white stuff mudz?

    • mudz
    Reply

    I don’t know how to describe it but the white stuff is attached to the vanilla bean. Are they normal???

      • AAW
      Reply

      I too am seeing a white substance on the outside of the bean. I’ve made extract before and have not experienced this. This last beans I ordered were Madagascar beans and I’m wondering if they are just different and that’s the reason I’m seeing this white residue that looks a little slimy. I was happy to see your question, because I was starting to wonder if something was wrong. I still don’t like the way it looks.

        • Barb
        Reply

        It is normal.That “white stuff” is better than the beans without it.

    • TipNut
    Reply

    Hi Mudz, I wonder if it’s the vanillin you’re seeing? You can read this for info:

    Vanillin – Wikipedia

    Here’s a quote:

    Vanillin is most prominent as the principal flavor and aroma compound in vanilla. Cured vanilla pods contain approximately 2% by dry weight vanillin; on cured pods of high quality, relatively pure vanillin may be visible as a white dust or “frost” on the exterior of the pod.

    At smaller concentrations, vanillin contributes to the flavor and aroma profiles of foodstuffs as diverse as olive oil,[10] butter,[11] and raspberry[12] and lychee[13] fruits. Aging in oak (wine) barrels imparts vanillin to some wines and spirits.[14] In other foods, heat treatment evolves vanillin from other chemicals. In this way, vanillin contributes to the flavor and aroma of coffee,[15] maple syrup,[16] and whole grain products including corn tortillas[17] and oatmeal.[18]

    Edit: Also sorry for the late reply, somehow I missed your comment earlier.

    • mudz
    Reply

    Thank you for your help, Tipnut!

    • Schwarze
    Reply

    I also need to make vanilla extract without alcohol. What I’m contemplating, is to use oil. I’m figuring that the lack of water should prevent spoilage (though perhaps not as well as alcohol). The addition of vitamin E may help prolong shelf life if need be.

    Also, would grade A Tahitian beans be noticeably different than or inferior to Madagascar beans? What is usually used in the name brand extracts?

      • Luke
      Reply

      I would be careful if you choose to infusing the beans in oil because of the botulinum toxin which forms in oxygen free environments. You should research this before proceeding with your idea.

      • Anne Wingate
      Reply

      I like to combine 2 parts Madagascar vanilla extract (homemade) and 1 part Tahitian vanilla extract. If you compare it to music, Madagascar is the trombone and Tahitian is the oboe. But they “sound” great together, and the Madagascar doesn’t overpower the lighter, floral taste of the Tahitian. BTW, I was using Everclear to make the extract, and then diluting it with distilled water. But I use it for vanilla-strong smoothies, and now I’m on some meds that require a totally alcohol-free diet. So I’m going to try the glycerin recipe. I have to get some more vanilla beans first.

      • Diana Everitt
      Reply

      I am thinking that a light vinegar such as a Japense rice wine vinegar may make a really good non-alchohol verion of homemade vanilla extract. Or, perhaps a diluted solution of white wine vinegar. I just placed my Christmas order of vanilla beans to make extract for gift giving. I will give it a try and see how it comes out.

        • Barb
        Reply

        That sounds awful. How did it turn out? Commercial vanilla extract has alcohol and most of the time a touch of sugar or syrup added to it. I would never put a vinegar into a recipe that calls for sweet.

          • Jim Marriott
          Reply

          Barb: Vinegar and Sweet will show their power, once locked together with something sour.

    • Nicole
    Reply

    So this raw food book I’m reading suggests to steep a vanilla bean in glycerine to cover, over night…I haven’t tried it but I’m going to, only because I use vanilla extracts in smoothies and I don’t like the aftertaste of the alcohol.

    • Rowena Greenwood
    Reply

    Herbalist often make non-alcoholic tinctures with vegetable glycerine. Some stores sell vanilla flavor, or vanilla beans extracted in vegetable glycerine (check the label). Food grade vegetable glycerine is sold in health food stores. There is an FDA rule as to why it is called a flavor and not an extract.

    • Kara
    Reply

    Do you use the same amount of homemade vanilla extract in a given recipe as you would store-bought vanilla extract? If not, how much should you cut down?

    • TipNut
    Reply

    Hi Kara, I don’t change a thing when baking with homemade vanilla.

    • ransomedbyfire
    Reply

    I am also looking for a non-alcoholic way to make vanilla extract. I know the alcohol won’t be the same when it is cooked, but I do not believe in buying alcohol, period, for any reason, unless it is already part of another product (i.e. NyQuil or white wine Worcestershire sauce).

      • Rextionary
      Reply

      A good alcohol free substitute would be to make a vanilla syrup. It is a simple syrup made with vanilla beans. As follows:

      Ingredients

      2 cups sugar
      2 cups water
      1 Tb. corn syrup
      12 vanilla beans (more for stronger flavor)

      Directions

      1.Bring the sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over high heat. Split and scrape the vanilla beans and add entire bean and scrapings to the saucepan.
      2.Reduce the heat to medium-low.
      3.Simmer, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved, 6 to 8 minutes.
      4.Let cool completely.
      5.Transfer to an airtight container. Do not strain out the beans as they will add to the flavor over time
      6.Refrigerate or store in a COOL dark place for several weeks.
      To top off make a new batch or half batch and add to previously made vanilla syrup.

      The more beans you use the stronger the flavor and it only gets better over time.
      To make a thicker syrup increase cooking time.
      To more easily pour syrup set container in a warm water bath til heated through.
      You can also add vanilla beans to honey for a unique flavor.

        • TipNut
        Reply

        Thanks a lot for sharing that recipe Rextionary 🙂

    • Tessa
    Reply

    I made this over the holidays and have finally been able to use it in my baking. I made the vanilla extract recipe #1 with vodka and it turned out wonderfully. Next I’m going to try the recipe with the rum or the brandy but I haven’t decided which yet.

    • mattm
    Reply

    Keith says: “Guys: From the FDA 21CFR169 it says 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of extract is single fold (single strength) vanilla extract. As most vanilla beans are ~120/pound or 7.5 beans per ounce of weight. A gallon of extract is 128 fluid ounces, so that would mean ~98 beans per gallon or SIX (6) whole beans to make ONE cup (8 fluid ounces) of single fold vanilla extract.

    Anyone who tells you any differently is just teaching you how to make vanilla flavored booze.”

    One thing to take into consideration is that vanilla beans are different sizes meaning you might find a grade A bean that’s 9-10″ long which would weigh considerably more than an extract grade B bean that’s 5.5″ long. Another thing to take into consideration is that the commercial producers use machines which circulate the alcohol through the vanilla beans 24/7, in completely sealed, pressurized, systems which means that 13.35 ounces of bean in a commercial plant will make a stronger vanilla extract or alcohol or whatever you want to call it, than one can at home with the exact same 13.35 ounces meaning that if you want to get the same flavor from home (and infused rather than percolated) vanilla extract, you’re going to have to add more beans to the same amount of alcohol or get a hell of a workout. In other words, if you want to make a great tasting vanilla extract that you love, you use however many beans you’d like. All vanilla extract is vanilla flavored booze, it just happens that because of a regulation, a certain concentration is allowed to go by a different name. A rose called Bob is still a rose and however the concentration, a bunch of vanilla beans in alcohol is still just vanilla flavored alcohol in the end…

    As to alcohol free vanilla, just ground and dry the beans until you have some nice fine powder which you can then add to anything except things that have to be pure white. Better taste and it won’t burn away when cooked too hot (as extract will somewhere around 300). I use a coffee grinder. Cut the beans into small pieces and grind. Let sit overnight to dry (spread out as best as possible) and then repeat the next day and the next until you have the consistency of powder you’d like. You will have traces of vanilla in the food and even tiny pieces can still be crunched in the mouth but it’s barely noticeable and also points out that real vanilla (not pulp mill by-product, yuk, fake vanilla) was used.

    mattm

    • Heidi
    Reply

    Where can i purchase vanilla beans? Are they hard to find?

      • Anne Wingate
      Reply

      It was a couple of years ago that I last purchased vanilla beans, but I got them on eBay. I’m going to look for some now, and will report results.

      • Anne Wingate
      Reply

      I’m back from eBay. My Tahiti vanilla beans are bought and on their way here–I paid $36 counting shipping for 20 beans–and I have bid $1 for 100 Madagascar beans with three minutes left in the auction and no other bidders. The shipping will be $10, so I’ll get them for $11. You can’t beat that price. BTW, I’ve been buying vanilla powder from Frontier Foods.

      I’m back from checking email–I correct myself, there were 50 Madagascar beans, not 100, but the minimum acceptable bid was $0.01, so although I bid a dollar I got them for one cent plus shipping.

      • Diana Everitt
      Reply

      They are readily availble in your local grocery stores now. In fact our local Walmart carries them. I have also found them at Weis’, Wegmans, my local health food store, the local bulk food store.

        • ratherbeathome
        Reply

        They are also available at whole foods, kitchebkaboodle, world market, and sams and krogers stores…happy baking!

          • Holly
          Reply

          I bought mine from amazon.com

          • Marie
          Reply

          Yeah, but all those places sell vanilla beans for like 5 dollars or MORE for ONE bean… thats fine if you want to scrape out a little vanilla caviar to make a dish look pretty and then stuff the pod into some vanilla sugar for your coffee once in a while, but if you want to make vanilla.. especially real, potent vanilla in the 750ml range for heavy duty baking and gifts.. Trust me (and Anne! great buy Anne!!).. Ebay.

    • Amanda
    Reply

    If you buy vanilla extract the store you are buying alcohol, real or imitation. If you don’t want to use or buy alcohol don’t use any extracts.

    • NSGIRL
    Reply

    What types of containers/bottles could be used to store homemade vanilla? Do they need to be airtight (I assume not as they would be opened repeatedly when using?) Anyone know of a good place (in Canada) to buy jars or bottles for storing the vanilla? I would like to give some as gifts but don’t know the proper way to store it?

      • Anne Wingate
      Reply

      For vanilla made with alcohol, I use one-pint canning jars and keep them on a shelf. I expect I’ll store the glycerin in the fridge, in old (washed) vinegar bottles, and I’ll probably boil it before pouring it over the beans, because I don’t want food poisoning. I wouldn’t give it as a gift unless I had made it with alcohol, for safety’s sake and also because the only people I would give it to as a gift would be my stepdaughter and my stepson’s wife, and I definitely don’t want to play games with my grandchildren’s health. Children are far more susceptible to food poisoning than adults are.

      • Diana Everitt
      Reply

      I use regular canning jars in 1/4 pint, 1/2 pint, and pint sizes.

      • mgordon
      Reply

      i use old patron tequila bottles. i like the way it looks, plus the cork is nice.

    • Anne
    Reply

    Do you really have to discard the vanilla beans after awhile? I read in a cookbook (Ina Garten’s, I believe?) that she’s had a bottle of homemade vanilla brewing for years and just continue to add more alcohol.

      • TipNut
      Reply

      No you don’t need to strain the beans out if you don’t want to. You will have “floaties” in the extract but they’re just pieces of the vanilla.

      • Anne Wingate
      Reply

      I’d remove the beans after a year and replace them with new beans, then dry the old beans and grind them in the Vitamix to make vanilla powder. It won’t be white, but it will be vanilla and can be used to make vanilla bread, cake, cookies, or ice cream, although you need to add vanilla extract as usual also. But that’s ideal, and as a matter of fact I think I’ve had the same vanilla beans in the Everclear for three years now. BTW I’m a Mormon and I don’t mind using alcohol in baking recipes because it cooks out, but I don’t use it in cold stuff for both religious and medical reasons.

        • John N
        Reply

        Anne,

        Thank you for your comment! I’m a Mormon as well. I live STRICTLY by the beliefs, and I am SOOOO amazed at people who don’t want to use extracts or liquors in recipes (ie. wine, flavored liquers, etc.) because it’s ALCOHOL!

        It’s been stated MANY times here on this message board that THE ALCOHOL COOKS OUT! As soon as it boils, it’s gone! Usually, well before that! I used to be a pastry chef at a 5 Diamond hotel, and we used liquer ALL THE TIME! We used light rum, instead of vanilla extract, in our butter cream (50 lb. batch!) to flavor it. Just a little splash! I told my mom how we made it and she actually said, “How can you serve that to children?” WHAT?!!! Are you serious?!! There’s probably LESS rum in our 50 lb. batch than there is vanilla extract in your 2 lb. batch, Mom!

        Seriously folks. DON’T get all up in arms about the alcohol in your recipes. You’re NOT going to go to hell, because the stuff isn’t in there by the time you eat it!

        Lastly, I just started my first batch of vanilla extract using a 80 proof cheap vodka (.357ml) and 9 Bourbon vanilla beans. I’m going by the USDA standards for my 1x fold. I figured it’s an average of 6 beans per 8 oz. of vodka. .357ml is 1.5C of liquid, so 9 beans go in! I only scrapped the caviar out of two of the beans, and left the rest of it in the others. LOTS of floaties, but I plan to strain it through a coffee filter when I’m done. I also plan to let the beans steep in the vodka for about 3-6 months before I use it. I may sound like I’m going to extremes, but I just want it to be REALLY good!

          • Kay
          Reply

          Thanks Anne for setting the record straight for SO many people who think that cooking with alcohol is still sinful or breaking their tee-totaler record. Yes, it evaporates in the cooking process. If it evaporates then the alcohol is not still there. Only the essence or flavor is left, NO alcohol. Some people get so bogged down in legalism they become silly with their notions. I am a Christian. Even Jesus drank wine, and he turned water into wine. There wasn’t much else available at the time that would keep for any length of time and not spoil, and surface water was and is easily contaminated. The Bible says do not get drunk with too much wine, not do not ever let a drop pass your lips. If someone is going to be that legalistic they had better make sure they don’t ever take any cough syrup or use any extract flavorings. People, please use reasoning and common sense. You won’t go to hell for using extracts, nor are you in danger of becoming an alcoholic or setting a bad example.

      • Diana Everitt
      Reply

      When I get to the bottom of the jar I smell the beans if I can still smell the vanilla from the beans I add more vodka. I have only been making it for three years but, I still have the same jar with the beans I started with, I add two or three beans a year to it. I probably go through a half gallon of extract a year just for my own use.

        • Michele Brooks
        Reply

        I have been brewing my extract for almost a year. I picked up really cheap vodka to make it with, and now I am wondering if it was just too cheap! I smell alcohol more than vanilla extract. I cut the beans in half and used three halves to a small bottle – about 3 oz.
        Is there any way to “save” it? I can’t give it away with the stuff smelling more like vodka than vanilla.

    • dordes
    Reply

    Making your own vanilla extract is a better option.Thanks for the recipe.Alcohol evaporates when it is heated.Many fruit cake recipes ask for brandy or whiskey and when it is baked you don’t get the taste of the alcohol.Thanks for all the input.

    • triy
    Reply

    Can I use citron vodka to soak the vanilla beans to make vanilla extract?

      • Anne Wingate
      Reply

      Yes, and it sounds delicious. I didn’t know citron vodka existed. Next time I’m in a liquor store, and heaven only knows when that will be, I’ll look for citron vodka. I suppose you could use any kind of flavored liquor that’s 60 proof (30% alcohol) or higher, if it’s a flavor that goes well with vanilla.

      • Diana Everitt
      Reply

      I am an old school vanilla extract girl. I like mine to have a nice clean powerful vanilla flavor. I make mine using vodka and believe it or not I find I get the cleanest vanilla flavor from bottom shelf cheap vodka. Many of the upper shelf sipping vodkas such as grey goose have back ground flavors that distract from the vanilla. This is my personal choice. It really comes down to personal taste. I did make a vanilla extract using Jack Daniels Whiskey last year. I love the vanilla notes in the whiskey. It was wonderful. I used it to make a simple powder sugar glaze for homemade potato doughnuts. All I can say is wow!

        • Kim
        Reply

        Ummm, recipe please?

          • Marie
          Reply

          me too me too!!! (recipe that is.. sounds absolutely delish) And i agree with the bottom drawer vodka making top shelf vanilla.. my current batch is some Nikolai vodka with the pretty black and gold label, which is about as cheap as it gets lol. Just happened to be what i had when i unearthed the beans i stowed and lost two years ago LOL. The amazing thing is that after two years of iffy storage (but good wrapping, double thick plastic and then in a sealed cardboard box) the beans were still moist, fragrant, and perfect.. i cut half of them (about an eighth of a pound) into one inch pieces, and split the other half lengthwise, and today, less than a whole DAY later, the booze is already dark amber and smells divine!! I wont use it till Christmas, but man i can already tell its going to be my best batch ever!! And ive still got about a quarter pound of those luscious beans left and im going to bury them in five pounds of sugar 🙂 Yum. Its going to be a merry Christmas around here LOL.

    • Martins Akposiegbe
    Reply

    Thank you so much for the wonderful vanilla recipe.

    • CFenner
    Reply

    This week I purchased Maker’s Mark Tennessee Whiskey Bourbon to make my vanilla extract. I will be sooo excited as that stuff is VERY good. Has anyone used anything other than vodka and brandy? This bourbon is 45% alcohol! YUM! Its not bitter like vodka or brandy.

    • momma t
    Reply

    when u say to grind up vanilla beans in the coffee grinder. do you mean after they are shelled or the whole pod? sorry if this is a silly question! i would really like to make some vanilla powder with no sugar!

    • Jackie
    Reply

    can you use Captain Morgan spiced rum for making vanilla . Is one of the long pods considered a bean or are there seperate beans in the pod

    • aaron
    Reply

    Hi I used half a gallon of vodka and five vanilla pods to try to make vanilla. This being my first time making vanilla i didn’t think it mattered what you used or how much you used of it. So my big question is this, will it affect how strong it is or how long it takes to cure?

      • Marie
      Reply

      Yes, it will. You dont have nearly enough vanilla there to make anything but the weakest vanilla flavored vodka.. BUT.. given a year or two it might be edible heh.

    • md
    Reply

    I was watching a food network show & it said that all of the alcohol does NOT evaporate when you cook with it. It was a while back so I don’t remember what show it was on. Maybe ‘Good Eats’.

    • Jade
    Reply

    For the making of the vanilla extract, can I boil/heat the Rum/Vodka to get rid of the alcohol before I soak the vanilla pods inside?

      • ah
      Reply

      I don’t think that would work as well. The alcohol works as a solvent (extracting the vanilla from the pods) and it also prevents bacteria and/or mold growing in your extract. Alcohol evaporates at 73.4C or 173Fahrenheit so if you plan on making something that doesn’t warm up enough, you can always boil the needed amount of extract right before you use it.

    • Sarah
    Reply

    How long does the non alcoholic vanilla last?

    • Wanda
    Reply

    I’m a newbie to making my own homemade vanilla and I have some questions. First of all, if I’m using 100% vodka rather than 80%, do I need to add some water?? Secondly, how much corn syrup would I need to add to each pint jar of vanilla?
    In each pint jar, I used 4 Madagascar Grade A beans. Do I need to add more or will that be enough to make a nice strong vanilla after it sits for a few months?
    Thanks!

    • sue
    Reply

    i don’t want alcohol in my beans as i am a raw foodie and don’t cook anything. and the taste of alcohol is yuk to. just thought you guys should know why some of us don’t like the addition. also my children are eating stuff that i make with vanilla. does anyone know how the glycerine recipe turned out and is the water added to the glycerine???

      • Thrivalista
      Reply

      Sue, glycerine isn’t a raw food, either (nor is maple syrup). If you want an uncooked carrier for the vanilla flavor, why not just soak the snipped vanilla bean in water for a few hours, then throw the bean and the water into whatever you’re making? If you’re using a Vitamix for a smoothie, or a food processor for a banana cream dessert, or whatever you’re prepping, you can skip the alcohol infusion step.
      But glycerine isn’t raw. And its sometimes not even derived from food (see what Wikipedia has to say about it.)

    • Kay
    Reply

    I just got my 3 year medal from AA 2 weeks ago. I WILL not bring any alcohol in my home and torture myself. One drink is to many and a thousand is not enough. I am going to the health food store and get glycerin. For those who think it is OK because the booze cooks out, well, for some of us it just might not make it to where the booze cooks out. Sobriety IS #1 for those of us in AA. Staying sober way too valuable to fool with! I am so grateful for 3 years clean.

      • Kay
      Reply

      In your case you make a most excellent point. I certainly understand that alcohol in any form could be a great temptation to anyone struggling with alcoholism. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!

      • Marie
      Reply

      you just gave the only viable reason to forgo the booze. Congratulations 🙂 Just use the bean straight up, it will be delicious!

    • dec1958
    Reply

    What about Bourbon. I have some locally made Bourbon that was gifted to me. I don’t drink so I don’t know what the difference would be.
    Thanks!!

    • alex
    Reply

    Madagascar Pods are the very best!!!
    in Europe some of us are more used to vanilla sugar -this is fine caster sugar mixed with vanilla extract.
    I make my own: I take 100gr. of white caster sugar, and add 2 podds to it. I cut the podds open before.
    Now every time I need a podd to infuse something like milk, I take the podd out of the sugar and use it. Than I shake it of and put it back in the sugar (if you cover it with the sugar, it won’t mold at all). When I buy new podds for a special meal, I put them in the sugar after use.
    Every time I use the vanilla sugar in baking, I add exactly the same amount of sugar to the mix and shake or sturr.
    In winter I bake more often and make a double batch. Sometimes I have as much as six podds in there… When I find a podd is loosing its fragrance, I stop using it, scrape the last of the merr (?- I mean the gooy stuff inside the podd) out and use that, before I discard the podd.
    It has been the system in my family from before my grandmother (she was born 1860) and it suffices me.
    Now I must say – I recently got madagascar vanilla liquid from a befriended professional baker and lordylord, I could drink that as a daily treat!!
    But it is very expensive, indeed, I think a liter was as much as 120 US dollars… it is very frugal in use, though.

    • Lenore
    Reply

    I made a big batch of these for Christmas presents this year and all the recipients were very excited to get them. I made a mix, some were vodka and some were brandy. I included insructions for topping them up as they are used. I kept a jar of each for myself. They were a Big hit this year and they tasted excellent. Thanks for the very helpful tutorial!

    • becker
    Reply

    We started out extract at the end of December. We bought a large bottle of organic vodka and have put the organic beans in… The bottle came with a cork, which is popping off at random, is that suppose to happen? My husband keeps putting it back on. We invested a lot in this extract… I would hope it isn’t going bad or something… any input would be appreciated.
    Nothing else was added.

    • Marian
    Reply

    Any simple ideas for how to use the finished vanilla extract? Would be useful to add when giving as presents.

    • Ron
    Reply

    I’ve made two batches now of homemade vanilla with a minimum of 10 pods in the first and 16 pods in the second batch. My wife insisted her store bought McCormick brand was better so I tried a test…made one batch of homemade vanilla ice cream with her stuff and one batch with mine, same recipe on both but in both cases her ice cream tasted better. Both of my homemade batches brewed for 3-5 months

      • Barb
      Reply

      Did you add a small amount of sugar or syrup to yours? That may be the difference.

      • Marie
      Reply

      ten to sixteen pods in how MUCH booze, at what concentration, how did you process the beans, and how often did you shake the solution? Cause i can tell you MY homemade vanilla beats the PANTS off mccormick 😉 I use a quarter of a pound of beans to a fifth of vodka, 40 percent alcohol by volume, and either chop or split the beans, then shake every day or more often as long as i can remember, then let it sit from 3 months until forever (i just keep using it and adding vodka until i forget to buy more booze and run out, then start over if ive had to water it down for a recipe or something, otherwise it is perpetual hehe) trust me, WAY better than store bought.. but yeah added sugar or something could make the difference…

    • Levi
    Reply

    I buy vanilla beans by the pound once a year or so. Every single time I bake any cookie one bean pod gets scraped and the seeds are added to the cookie (I think that if it has a vanilla flavor you should be able to see specks). Then I add the vanilla that the reciepe calls for from my homemade stash. I put the spent pod into the jar and put it back in the cupboard. I usually have 3 bottles of vanilla for different types of baked goods. When the bottles have more pods than vanilla, I have been pulling them out, tossing them and starting over. DUM DUMM DUM DUM!!!! I just read about drying them out and making vanilla sugar! God, I’m silly. And I just barely did it 15 minutes ago and am not going to dig in the trash. Durnit!

    Oh well….live and learn – thanks for the tip!

    There is only one type of vanilla store bought that I will ever use. It is Los Cinco Soles in Cozumel. The stuff is like parfum. I’m sure it is fake, but I’d put it behind my ears.

      • Marie
      Reply

      oh wow.. i just keep adding alcohol until the vanilla starts to lose flavor unless something bad happens, like i run so low on booze that to finish a recipe i add water.. then after doing that a couple of times i usually break down and start over, but it breaks my heart, because as long as you keep adding booze to the finished extract and keep letting it age.. its only gonna get better…but yeah if you run out of room in the bottles take some out and make the vanilla sugar… but throw them out??? sacrilege! heh.

      • Marie
      Reply

      Oh, and i HAVE put my homemade vanilla behind my ears before LOL.. wouldnt do that with store bought as it usually has sugar of some sort added LOL.

    • Holly
    Reply

    I recently made some vanilla extract for the first time. I put it in “cute” little bottles that had corks. But I’ve noticed in most of the pictures I have been seeing, the bottles have rubber stoppers that seal. Is there a preferred (better) method of sealing?

    • CTCOCO
    Reply

    Be sure to keep your pods covered with alcohol always so no mold on your vanilla beans.

      • Marie
      Reply

      I used to worry about that, but after a few batches where i didnt buy booze in time and ran dry with no ill effects, i realized that these beans have been soaking in booze for so long there is no where for mold to get a “foothold” on them.. Just shake it up every so often if you are worried 🙂

    • robyn
    Reply

    If you have split the bean open you can note white floaters. this is from shaking and breaking down the cell structure from inside the vanilla bean. it will be strained off usually before use. if it bothers you make extract without splitting the bean.

    • Lee wei
    Reply

    Can i use rice wine to make vanilla extract?

    • Tara
    Reply

    Help! Robyn I hope that’s what it is! The outside of the bean looked fine- no white or evidence of mold.
    I split 3 beans and scored all of them. One bottle has lots of floaters and the other only has vanilla seed floaters. The one that’s making me nervous , it looks like grey fluff but it seems to be attached to the vanilla seeds . Like the tiny seeds are all kind of embedded in this cottony like grey floaties. It doesn’t smell moldy but sure looks unappetizing. This is my first time making homemade vanilla. I hope I didn’t just waste all that money on vodka and beans to have to pitch it.
    I did see that it could be the resinous vanillin but it doesn’t look like the photos of the resin. Oh dear.

    • Nicki
    Reply

    One bottle I have made for gifts has developed some foam on top. Also the top of the bottle (not under vanilla) looks like a clear coating has accumulated. I shake it and was going to give it as a gift. Is it safe?

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