Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Now that Christmas has come and gone (and then some), I can finally reveal a little project I've been working on: homemade vanilla extract. Back in November, I was searching for easy, homemade gifts to give at Christmas. Cookie mix, limoncello, granola ... vanilla seemed the easiest, the cheapest, and the prettiest.

Vanilla Beans

The ratio is 2-3 beans per 6-8 ounces vodka.

I found my beans at I ordered the variety pack, and received a bunch of different kinds - Indonesian, Mexican, Indian, etc. Cost: $25.

For the containers, I hit up an old favorite: American Science & Surplus! Cost: $15.

As for the liquor, I wanted something not too expensive but not tasting of gasoline - Skyy Vodka. Cost: $20. I read that you can substitute other liquors as well. I bet rum and bourbon would both work.

Places two beans in each container, and fill with vodka. Seal and let sit in a cool place for 8 weeks.

That's it!

I made 12 bottles to give away. They make good gifts for moms, aunts, and hostesses. Plus one for me.

(This picture is on day one. You want them to darken up a bit before using.)

Total cost: $60 / 12 bottles =  only $5 each!

I even went one step further and made labels. I went for an old-timey "Dr. Fantastik's Amazing Liquer" look.

I got a lot of compliments on this idea,  but don't know if anyone has used theirs yet (including me). At least they look good!


  1. They look fantastic! What a great idea - you'll have to let me know how it tastes. If it works out, I'm totally doing this.

  2. Somehow, I had no idea alcohol was even used in vanilla extract...You'll have to let me know how it turns out. I don't think I would want to make Choc Chip cookies for Erins class and end up with them all being drunk from the


  3. I made vanilla from vanilla beans we bought in Hawaii. I was worried because it didn't appear to have gotten very dark, I am used to the commercial stuff. But I love your idea and the execution is perfect.

    BTW, @Linda, all vanilla extract is alcohol based.

  4. what brand vodka did you use?

  5. I have homemade extract made with vodka. It is great! You can split the beans to get more flavor. Mine is pretty dark and I started it in June.

  6. @Anonymous: NO ONE, not even children, can get drunk from 1 tsp of vodka based vanilla extract in Choc. Chip cookies! ANYTIME alcohol is used in a recipe that is cooked or baked, the alcohol evaporates and leaves only flavor!

  7. This is brilliant. I saw Ina Garten do it in a book of hers I own and I had considered it, but wow. DO IT, Girl! Awesome bottle and label, I might add. I'm totally inspired.