homemade vanilla extract | the vanilla bean blog
I’ve had ‘make vanilla extract’ on my to-do list for quite some time, and finally got around to doing so. Ever since Ashlae sent me a bottle of her delicious brew, I just wasn’t satisfied with the extract I purchased in the store. So this week I got to work, slicing open vanilla beans, jamming them into pretty bottles, pouring vodka all over them, and shaking them gently. Pretty easy work for something so wonderful. And now I must wait patiently for at least 8 weeks, and longer if I can manage it.

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware, and by the far the largest to me, and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness, I can wait.
— Walt Whitman

homemade vanilla extract | the vanilla bean blog
homemade vanilla extract | the vanilla bean blog
homemade vanilla extract | the vanilla bean blog
homemade vanilla extract | the vanilla bean blog
homemade vanilla extract | the vanilla bean blog

homemade vanilla extract | the vanilla bean blog
The vanilla beans and bottles were kindly sent to me by Beanilla, after they noticed a blog with the title Vanilla Bean didn’t have a post on making extract. They have step-by-step instructions on their site, as well as many vanilla bean varieties, and all kinds of gorgeous bottles.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

5-7 vanilla beans (.85 oz), split lengthwise
8 ounces of 35%+ alcohol (70+ proof) (vodka, bourbon, rum, or brandy can be used here; vodka will have the lightest, cleanest flavor)

Use a knife to split the vanilla bean in half, leaving about ½ inch at each end intact. Put the vanilla beans in a glass bottle or jar and cover with vodka (or other alcohol). Close jar or bottle and store in a cool, dry place for at least 8 weeks. Give the bottle a shake every week or so.
homemade vanilla extract | the vanilla bean blog

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53 Responses to homemade vanilla extract

  1. kristie says:

    Your photos are just so beautiful! They make me want to be a better photographer.
    And I can’t wait to try making this extract. I think it would make a beautiful gift, if I could bare to part with it.

  2. I’m planning on making vanilla extract this weekend – what timing!! We just ordered the beans and they came in yesterday 🙂

  3. Cristina says:

    I too was inspired by Ashlae’s awesome extract. As we speak, 15 bottles of vanilla bean-spiked vodka are asleep in the hall closet, where they will remain until my wedding a year from now.

    • Sarah says:

      Yes, I’m hoping I can hold out a year – her vanilla is so great, and I know she ages it that long. I’m guessing the vanilla is a wedding favor? Great idea!

  4. Kathryn says:

    So beautiful – almost like magic.

  5. Lindsey says:

    who knew making your own vanilla extract could be so simple. and those bottles are too beautiful! happy friday, sarah! xo

  6. molly yeh says:

    ooh fun!!! at least while you wait, you have pretty bottles to put on your shelves 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Yes! Or, fill them with the store bought vanilla you have in your cupboard, because it’s more fun pouring it out of pretty bottles. xx

  7. I must get onto this, real soon xx
    p.s such. stunning. pics. As always!

  8. Gorgeous. And yes. My pantry needs a bottle or three.

  9. This is also on my list of must-make recipes. A friend sent me five different kinds of vanilla beans, which I was certain I’d turn into extract. Still haven’t gotten around to it. But now you’ve definitely inspired me.

  10. Making vanilla extract has been on my to-do list for years! Funny (or rather sad?) how I’ve never managed to whip up a few bottles. I mean, it’s so damn easy! Adding “make vanilla extract” to my things-to-do-in-May list. Thank you for the inspiration and reminding me of how delicious homemade vanilla extract is. Have a great weekend. xo

  11. I’m totally making this. Love your blog. Beyond.

  12. El says:

    It’s all we use. After time, you can take out a straw and drink it- if you’re so inclined. Beautiful photos!

  13. Chaya says:

    i actually just made vanilla extract! the hardest part is waiting for it to fully develop. I put in a full bean, split lengthwise and then into quarters. I’m going to need to strain it when it’s ready, but I can’t wait to taste it!
    Yours looks beautiful.

  14. I’m suddenly reminded of the book ‘Garden Spells’ by Sarah Addison Allen — have you ever read it? I adore it. It centers around edible flowers and the magical effects of food and herbs on the emotions — anyway, i do feel like making your own extracts is a kind of food magic and there has always been something so timeless and mysterious, and yet simple and pure about your photos (WHERE AM I GOING WITH THIS??) that reminds me of that book. Anyway. What fun. I know what I’m making to give as Christmas gifts!!

  15. Lindsay says:

    Lovelovelove those little bottles.

  16. Sarah, I’m sure that delectable extract will be well worth the wait!

  17. Krys says:

    Those bottles are delightful! I’m looking forward to making a brew and gifting a bottle to my Mum. Thanks!

  18. Beautiful photos! Never knew making vanilla extract could be so easy – the waiting seems to be the hardest part (although that does sound quite difficult). Might have to try this out! Does it matter if the glass of the bottle/jar is clear or dark?

  19. I really must do this (and update the kids’ photo albums, clean out the cupboard under the stairs, learn how to walk in high heels…) I shall get around to them all, eventually, but you’ve made making vanilla extract sound so easy I shall have to do it soon!

  20. Giada says:

    I can’t ever find a good vanilla extract and was planning to do it myself too, so I will give this little project a whirl at some point!

  21. Victor says:

    Thanks for the recipe.
    Where do you get the bottles?
    They look great.

  22. Victor says:

    Oops. Just saw where you get the bottles.

  23. […] would have thought that making your own homemade vanilla extract would be so darn easy? On the to-do list for […]

  24. Crystle says:

    I love Beanilla! Their free shipping is great for those of us living up here in Alaska. I’ll have to order some of their extract bottles, they’re beautiful!

  25. Aditi says:

    Can i keep it(extract) resting for more than 8 weeks..??

    After the extract is prepared what we hav to do wid the vanilla bean..??

    • Sarah says:

      Yes, you can keep it resting longer! I usually let mine rest for 8-10 months. I keep the vanilla bean inside the jar the whole time I’m using the vanilla – it keeps just fine in the alcohol.

  26. Aditi says:

    Thanks..!! ?

  27. Aditi says:

    Thanks..! 🙂

  28. Dai says:

    Great style and technique will definetly demonstrate on my cookery circuit Dai Chef Wellsh celebrity foodie

  29. Equagold says:

    I should get onto this, genuine soon xx

    p.s such. dazzling. pics. As usual!

  30. Kimberly says:

    Hi Sarah! I just got your Vanilla Bean Baking Book for my birthday, and I LOVE it!! Can’t wait to try so many recipes in it! Question on making vanilla extract: Does something bad happen if you open it before the 8 weeks is over? I made some about 2 months ago, and I’ve opened it a few times during those 2 months (got too curious to wait to see how it smelled). And, I see little specks of something floating around in it–I’m sure it’s not just vanilla bean seeds, but I’m concerned at what it could be. The beans I used weren’t brand-new–I had them in the zip-loc pouch they came in and had them stored in a cabinet. I’ve heard old beans can have mold on them, but I don’t think my beans had mold–then again, I wouldn’t know what to look for to detect mold on vanilla beans. I appreciate your help! Thank you!!

    • Sarah says:

      What color are the specks? Vanilla beans give off a lot of seeds and little brown pieces – my extract has a lot of little pieces floating around in it. The vodka will kill any bad bacteria that could possibly be lurking. Opening it won’t do any harm. I don’t think you have anything to worry about! But you can read more about it here: http://www.doesitgobad.com/do-vanilla-beans-go-bad/

      • Kimberly says:

        Thank you so much Sarah! The specks don’t really have a color–just looks like debris of some sort–just sort of foggy in there. I’m mainly worried if it could be mold? I’m a bit paranoid! Oh, and I didn’t use Vodka–I used rum–will that still kill any and all bad bacteria? I’m sure I will strain it before I use it (I still have a few more months to go before it’s ready)–do you strain yours? Thank you for the link, I will definitely check it out!

        In an unrelated note, I made the Chocolate-Orange Scones from your book last night and passed them out at work. EVERYONE. WENT. NUTS. One coworker has even decided that we are staring a Scone Club! This recipe is PHENOMENAL, thank you so much! I LOVE your book, and I have decided to make everything in it at least once! Quick question: do you have a Cardamom Scone recipe? I’d take any other scone recipe of yours too, if that’s OK (aside from the others I already have in your book)! Thanks a million Sarah!!!

        • Sarah says:

          Hi Kimberly – it shouldn’t be mold, unless it is white and fuzzy. If they are black/brown speck/pieces, it should be fine. I’m so glad you liked the scones!! If you add anywhere from 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon ground cardamom to the creme fraiche scones (add it with the dry ingredients) you will have cardamom scones. 🙂 I like a lot of cardamom so I add a whole tablespoon, but some people like less. I also really like cardamom scones with chocolate – you could add some just like in the chocolate-orange scones.

  31. Kimberly says:

    Oops! One more question–I noticed that there is added water in store-bought vanilla extract. When using the homemade vanilla extract, should you add extra water, or use as-is, just the alcohol that the beans soaked in? Why in the world is water added to the store-bought stuff? Thanks!

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