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Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

Vodka bottle with vanilla beans in it
Tip: Wrapping a rubber band around stubborn lids and caps makes for a great gripper!

Recently I decided to make some brownies. (You can find the recipe here.) When I went to add the vanilla, I noticed that I was running low:

Now most people would just add to it the grocery list. In my house, we add it to the project list.

It is a fun, immediate project because there are some fine motor skills the kids get to use, then comes the fun of shaking it every couple of days or so and watching it turn color. Finally the kids get to use it to bake. What could be better than a project that is useful? Oh I know, one that saves you money too! Vanilla extract is expensive but it is not that expensive when you make it yourself. I typically triple the amount of vanilla I use (store bought or homemade) because I love it. My dad always did it and I tend to also. I even use it when making French toast.
Recipe:1 bottle of alcohol13 beans (that is the ratio we found works best for us ' you can use less for a smaller bottle). There are tons of recipes out there that claim to be the best way to make it but it all boils down to these three ingredients: a container of alcohol, vanilla beans and time. We use vodka ($10/liter). You can use bourbon also, and I am sure rum as well as a few others. I buy vanilla beans from the local bulk bins (about $7 for 13) at my organic grocery store.

Vodka bottle with a pile of vanilla beansNOTE: Before you start, pour a couple of ounces out. The beans will displace the vodka and you don't want a spill. I pour about 1/2 cup into a mason jar and add whatever I can back in afterwards.

Vanilla beans in bottle It really is that easy. Some recipes call for splitting your vanilla beans or chopping them up and then straining it. The first time we made it we made 2 , one with split beans and one with whole, untouched beans. Guess which one tasted better? You couldn't tell a difference. So now we don't bother to split or chop them. We insert them whole. We do things the easy way around here with the same results. Enjoy!

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe Instructions

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

Ingredients

Reduced fat cinnamon rolls
  • 13 vanilla beans
  • 1 bottle alcohol

Directions

  1. Insert beans into the bottle.
  2. Put the cap on and shake.
  3. Put your bottle into a dark space. Shake it occasionally.
  4. Allow the vanilla to work its magic in the dark for at least 2 months. I prefer to let it go for at least 6. Some recipes call for a year. The longer it sits the more vanilla flavor it has. Since I let ours cure for a long time I always have one curing.

It really is that easy. Some recipes call for splitting your vanilla beans or chopping them up and then straining it. The first time we made it we made 2 ? one with split beans and one with whole, untouched beans. Guess which one tasted better? You couldn?t tell a difference. So now we don?t bother to split or chop them. We insert them whole. We do things the easy way around here with the same results.