Homemade vanilla extract can save you so much money and it’s made with just 2 ingredients – vodka and vanilla beans. Simply soak the vanilla beans in vodka for up to 12 months for the best vanilla extract you’ll ever try.
homemade vanilla extract
But, the price for quality pure vanilla extract has gotten outrageous. This is why I have started making my own. And believe it or not, it’s super easy and so much cheaper to make your own vanilla extract.
I like to make a large quantity of vanilla extract because I use it every day in my baking. Small bottles do not last me long and I found myself repurchasing vanilla extract every couple weeks. That can really add up in cost.
Another great thing about making vanilla at home is you can make double fold vanilla extract for the price of a store-bought bottle of single fold vanilla extract.
What is the difference between single and double-fold vanilla extract
- Single-fold vanilla extract is required to use 13 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of alcohol. This is considered commercial grade vanilla extract. Nielson-Massey is an example of quality commercial brand vanilla and it’s often my go-to when I must purchase extract.
- Double-fold vanilla extract is what professional bakers use. It uses 23 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of alcohol. This rich vanilla flavor can’t be duplicated by doubling the amount of single-fold vanilla you use.
For what you’ll pay for a high-quality single-fold vanilla, you can make your own double-fold vanilla extract at home.
Do keep in mind the cost of vanilla beans will go up and down throughout the year but it is still cheaper to make your own extract.
Homemade vanilla extract ingredients
- Alcohol – I like to use vodka but you can actually use a variety of different alcohols. Look for the cheapest you can find at 80 proof.
- Other alcohols to choose are brandy, bourbon, or rum
- Vanilla Beans – Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans are rich, dark and creamy with an overwhelming sweet, buttery aroma. It’s my favorite variety for homemade vanilla. You only need the Grade B beans. Currently, you can find bulk vanilla beans that are already split on Amazon. I buy 2 packs of 10 and put all of them in 750ml of vodka.
What you’ll need to make pure vanilla extract:
- Glass Jars: Amber colored glass jars are best since they shield the vanilla extract from light.
- These clear jars are great also but you’ll need to make sure to keep the vanilla inside a pantry or cupboard, away from light.
- Labels: I love these chalkboard labels because you can wipe them off and reuse them. They’re also waterproof!
How to make homemade vanilla extract
Choose your alcohol. I like to use vodka because it’s the most versatile. If you choose to use brandy, bourbon, or rum, the vanilla will have a different flavor that may not be suitable for all recipes.
With the 750ml bottle, you can make the vanilla extract right in the same bottle. There’s no need to spend money on glass bottles unless you really want to. If the bottle contains a speed pourer, the little plastic piece in the neck of the bottle, gently pop it out using a butter knife.
Cut the vanilla beans in half then slice the beans down the center to split them open. If the beans are too dry to split, cut them into 1-inch pieces instead. Place all the beans in the bottle with the alcohol.
Replace the lid and store the bottle in a cool place out of direct sunlight for 2 months. Shake the bottle every couple of weeks. The longer you let the vanilla age the stronger the flavor will be.
How to store homemade vanilla extract?
Keep the vanilla extract out of direct sunlight. I tuck mine away in the pantry for safekeeping.
If you decide to transfer the vanilla extract to smaller jars, these amber-colored jars are great for protecting the vanilla extract from light.
You can use the extract as soon as 8 weeks but it will become more rich and flavorful with age. For optimal flavor, let the vanilla age for about 6 months. If you have the patience, wait 12 months before using it.
Tips for homemade vanilla extract
- Stick to the recipe! The vanilla bean to alcohol ratio yields a wonderfully luxurious double-fold vanilla extract.
- Letting the vanilla extract sit for 6 to 12 months will yield the richest vanilla essence.
- If you are using split beans, you don’t need to cut them because they are already sliced open.