Don’t you just love being able to make some of your favorite store-bought items at home for a fraction of the cost? I know I do, and homemade vanilla extract is no exception.
This little project is quick and simple to throw together and makes the perfect homemade vanilla extract you can use in all the ways you would use the store-bought kind. I personally love to give it away aa a nice gift because who wouldn’t love receiving some vanilla extract for free? The stuff isn’t cheap and pretty much everyone needs a bottle in their baking cabinet, so why not grace friends and family with one that’s made at home, tastes just as delicious, and has no additives?
I know I wouldn’t turn down a bottle!
All-Natural Homemade Vanilla Extract
If you have ever perused the store for vanilla extract, then you know there are a few different kinds to choose from. I usually see Vanillin and Pure Vanilla, and if you’re lucky, Bourbon Vanilla Extract.
Vanillin is produced synthetically and is therefore cheaper. However, I’m really not interested in consuming any type of synthetically produced vanilla. No doubt it’s bad for your health, so just skip that version.
The next is Pure Vanilla, which surprisingly enough, isn’t actually “pure”. Most of these vanilla extracts contain corn syrup, “natural flavorings”, artificial flavorings, VANILLIN, and caramel color.
Does that sound pure to you? I didn’t think so. If you have a bottle of that stuff in your pantry, go ahead and take a moment to go investigate its ingredients. There’s a high probability that it isn’t as pure as you thought, and it isn’t even made with REAL vanilla beans.
Of course, there are companies that actually make pure vanilla extract straight from real vanilla beans. One of the brands I love most is Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract which is made with organic vanilla beans extracted in water and organic alcohol. Trader Joes also makes a good vanilla extract with Bourbon vanilla beans. They both taste great and have zero added sugar and zero additives.
But we’re here to make our own homemade vanilla extract!
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
• Pretty bottles or swing top bottles (especially if you want to give these away as gifts)
• A small funnel
• A knife
• Vanilla beans (you will need one vanilla bean per 1 oz of alcohol)
• Organic alcohol – you can use vodka, bourbon, rum, or brandy
Types of Vanilla Beans
Indonesian Vanilla Beans – mild yet well-balanced flavor and aroma
Madagascar Vanilla Beans – have a rich, creamy, full-bodied aroma and flavor
Mexican Vanilla Beans – have a bold, dark, and smoky aroma and flavor
Tahitian Vanilla Beans – floral and fruity aroma and flavor reminiscent of cherries and chocolate
Tongan Vanilla Beans – Earthy aroma and flavor with hints of fig and dried fruit
Ugundan Vanilla Beans – smoky and bold aroma and flavor
Freshly bottled vanilla extract!
One day later. It already smells AMAZING!
Loving Preparation – Homemade Vanilla
1. Determine how many ounces of vanilla extract you will be making.
2. Count out one vanilla bean per 1 oz. I made 4 oz of vanilla extract, so I used 4 vanilla beans.
3. Slice the vanilla beans down the middle with a knife. This will help the extraction process and will give your extract a lovely dusting of tiny vanilla “seeds” throughout the extract.
4. Put the vanilla beans in your bottles, then cover them completely with alcohol. I used organic vodka.
5. Allow the vanilla beans to macerate for 6 weeks before use. Top up with more alcohol as needed to keep the beans submerged. Gently shake the bottle on occasion during this time to agitate the contents. You will notice the extract become darker over time as it macerates.
6. Once extraction is complete, it’s ready to use! No need to remove the vanilla beans.
7. Use as you would store-bought vanilla extract.
You can see the color start to change just a few minutes after adding the vodka! In a few weeks, it will rich and dark.
Alcohol-Free Homemade Vanilla Extract
For those of you who can’t ingest alcohol, you can sub the alcohol with glycerin.
1. In order for this to extract as best as possible, slice the beans down the middle and scoop out the seeds.
2. Add both the seeds and scraped pods to your bottles choice, again, using one vanilla bean per 1 oz of glycerin.
3. Cover the beans completely with the glycerin and allow to macerate for 2 months before use.
4. During this time, gently agitate the glycerin to help with extraction. Remove the beans when the extract has reached the desired flavor strength and bottle.
This recipe makes a lovely homemade vanilla extract. I hope you give it a try!
Have you ever made vanilla extract before? How did it turn out? Please share in the comments!
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