How to: Make Vanilla Extract
There's just something about going into a liquor store with littles that seems weird to me. Maybe it's the judgement... Are people thinking I get drunk at 10am to get through the day? Are people thinking I'm buying booze for my kids?! Ok, so that last one is probably not true at this point. Maybe that becomes a gray area when your kids are teens. But for whatever reason, I just can't take my kids into a liquor store. Even if I'm buying vodka to make essential oil sprays and homemade vanilla extract! I feel like I need a special sign that says "I'm not day drinking, I'm DIYing!"
Oh, and if you're one of my American followers, you're probably not going to fully understand. We (Canadians) can't just sneak a bottle of wine into our shopping cart full of healthy, organic food. We have to go to a special store where people judge the kind of parent you are.
Anyway... All that to say that I sent my husband to the liquor store this week to pick up some vodka so I could get to making my annual batch of vanilla extract!
This will be my second year making vanilla extract. Last fall, I made a couple dozen cute little bottles of homemade vanilla extract to give away as gifts! Homemade vanilla extract is much better than the cheap, artificial vanilla and it is much less expensive than purchasing the real stuff from a store. It's also incredibly simple to make!
Vanilla extract needs at least 6 weeks to infuse so it's a great idea to make a large batch so you can have some for yourself and have extras on hand when you need a thoughtful gift to give away.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Vodka (or bourbon)
You can scale this recipe to however much you would like to make. I use a ratio of 1 vanilla bean per half cup (4oz) of alcohol.
If you can afford to buy organic vodka, that would be preferred. I have not been able to find any locally so I use conventional liquor.
Measure desired amount of vodka to a container.
Cut your vanilla beans in half and add them to the vodka.
Seal the container and give it a shake.
Place in a dark place for at least 6 weeks, shaking occasionally.
When your vanilla has infused to the taste you like, it's ready to use! Continue to store it in a cupboard away from light.
You can add the full amount to one large mason jar or you can make smaller, individual-sized containers as ready-made gifts.
Some tutorials suggest splitting the pod and scraping out the vanilla beans; I have done it both ways and have found no difference in the infusion. So, I usually choose the easiest way :)
When your vanilla has infused, you can take the vanilla beans out or leave them in. I prefer to leave them in until I've used up the bottle. Then, I store the used beans in a container in my fridge and use them when I make herbal coffee (recipe coming soon!)
The lowest cost I have found to purcase a 4oz bottle of REAL vanilla extract is $11.
Homemade vanilla extract will vary in price depending on the vanilla and vodka you purchase. Myhomemade vanilla extract cost me $4.65 for 4oz. If I make it in the cute little bottles for gifts, it costs $5.60 for 4oz.