Homemade Vanilla Extract is vastly superior in flavor compared to commercial pure vanilla extract. Homemade vanilla is wonderfully rich with various flavor profiles that vary depending on the beans and alcohol you choose to infuse together.
Pure Vanilla extract prices have risen steeply in the last several years. Save yourself some money while you infuse a batch of the best gourmet vanilla extract you ever tasted. You can even reuse the bean pods for future vanilla infusions or other recipes.
My daughter in law gave me a jar of her homemade Madagascar vanilla. After 12 months of steeping, I added it into a batch of my vanilla ice cream. What an incredibly yummy warm rich vanilla flavor. It’s all I use now.
Kayti also makes her own vanilla and loves it. Give this simple process a try. It pays you back in flavor and dollars.
Making vanilla extract is very simple and you will create an AMAZING pure vanilla extract you can enjoy for years and proudly gift to friends and family.
This vanilla extract recipe scales easily. Make a large batch and store it in bottles. It has a long shelf life of at least 10 years when properly bottled and stored. And it makes handy, handmade gifts everyone will appreciate.
And you can reuse the beans! After using them for steeping your current batch of infused vanilla. Remove the beans for homemade French vanilla bean ice cream, vanilla crème Brûlée, or vanilla sugar or dry the pods out and immerse them in sugar to make vanilla sugar. Yum.
How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract:
Once you decide which vanilla beans and alcohol you want to use just put them together…. and NOW the hard part. You must wait for the infusion to happen.
Here’s all need to know about this recipe:
- Purchase the alcohol you want for your infusion.
- Purchase the types of beans you want.
- Bottle it up.
- Wait for the infusion to make the delicious vanilla extract. vanilla Infusions take at least 8 weeks before the vanilla is ready to use.
Which Vanilla Bean Makes The Best Vanilla Extract?
You want premium vanilla beans to make the best extract. Grade A is fine. However, B grade vanilla beans are produced for making vanilla extract so they are the best choice for this process. And grade B is less expensive than A grade. Win win!
There are three varieties of vanilla bean pods that are easily sourced and make homemade vanilla with distinctly different flavors. They all have their place in the kitchen.
Madagascar: Madagascar vanilla beans are the overwhelmingly favorite vanilla bean for making homemade vanilla extract. These beans have the deep warm rich vanilla flavor we find most often at the store. For general purpose vanilla extract these beans are a good choice.
Tahitian Vanilla: Tahitian vanilla beans have a Flowery, fruity flavor profile with hints of cherry, chocolate and anise. Tahitian vanilla extract is especially revered for pastry baking.
Mexican: Mexican vanilla beans have a smooth creamy flavor with a bit of smoke and spice. It is excellent in vanilla flavored desserts like vanilla bean ice cream.
How Many Beans Per batch?
How strong do you want the vanilla to get? We refer to the strength of the vanilla by folds.
Single fold vanilla is the standard for commercial vanilla extract we find at the grocery. This recipe is a single fold vanilla extract. Approximately 5 large vanilla beans (.8 oz. by weight) per 8 oz. alcohol makes single fold vanilla.
Single fold vanilla cannot attain the depth of flavor a double fold vanilla offers even if you double the quantity of single fold vanilla in a recipe.
Double Fold vanilla extract is DOUBLE the strength of single fold. Double fold strength is made by using 1.6 oz. vanilla beans per 8 oz. alcohol. Double fold is prized by certain bakers and cooks that want that extra richness.
You can continue to scale the strength of your vanilla extract by doubling the amount of beans per oz. of alcohol. Triple fold or higher is not normally used in home kitchens. Neither is double fold actually.
The reason you may want to make a higher concentration vanilla extract is so you can store it without using a large foot print in your pantry. You will need to dilute it when you actually use it or scale down the amount in your recipes for vanilla this strong. Using it full strength may overwhelm the other flavors in your recipes.
Which Alcohols Make Good Homemade Vanilla Extract?
Any 80 proof Alcohol that tastes good with the vanilla beans you are infusing will make vanilla extract. Here are a few favorites.
Vodka is the most common choice for making Homemade Vanilla Extract:
Vodka is a great alcohol to infuse vanilla beans and make your own homemade vanilla extract. Vodka is nearly flavorless so it does not interfere with the vanilla flavoring and gives a clear representation of the vanilla bean you choose. 80 proof Vodka is also relatively inexpensive and available everywhere.
We recommend a good quality mid grade vodka like Costco vodka, or Gray goose for a smoother vanilla extract. But don’t go over the top. Extremely expensive vodkas are wasted here.
Can you use 100 Proof alcohol for infusing vanilla beans? 100 proof alcohol will infuse vanilla beans but 80 proof alcohol is better. 100 proof may break down the vanilla pods and degrade the quality of the recipe.
Infusing Pure Grain Alcohols:
Everclear, like vodka, is a popular flavorless, odorless and colorless pure grain alcohol. It is inexpensive and It makes a good infusing agent for vanilla beans. But Everclear is so high in alcohol content it must be diluted before use and it is illegal in several states. So it is not available in all areas.
Why do you need to dilute Everclear? The high alcohol content of undiluted pure grain alcohols like Everclear will degrade vanilla beans while they infuse into the alcohol. This is not ideal. Degraded vanilla beans and pods will cause the flavor of your extract to suffer.
Before using Everclear (or any high alcohol volume pure grain alcohol )to make homemade vanilla extract add distilled water to it to bring the alcohol content down to 80 proof for the best results.
How to Dilute Everclear and other pure grain alcohols:
To attain an 80 proof dilution of 190 proof Everclear pure grain alcohol (Or any high alcohol content pure grain alcohol) you need to add 55% distilled water, by volume, to the 190 proof Everclear to make it 80 proof. For example, for every 3 cups of Everclear (about a 750 bottle) you will add 1.74 Cups of distilled water (412 ml).
For lower alcohol content pure grain alcohols (Everclear sells many lower alcohol content versions of itself) you need to figure out how much water to add for each product. with an alcohol proof over 80%.
MORE Spirits that Make Good Homemade Vanilla Extract:
Other alcohols that make good homemade vanilla include 80 proof bourbon, brandy, rum and some people use gin. These alcohols can all be substituted for the vodka in this recipe. But before you start coloring outside the flavor lines…remember ALL of these spirits will bring their own distinct flavor to your beans. Make sure you love the flavors together before you infuse.
There are SO MANY flavors involved when making a choice of alcohols. I leave it to you. Choose the best flavor bouquet of alcohol and vanilla beans to make your personal best homemade vanilla extract.
How to Bottle Homemade Vanilla Extract:
You can bottle homemade vanilla into large or small glass bottles or jars. It’s all about how much you want and your storage capacity.
Make it easy on yourself if you plan to use very small 2 to 4 oz. bottles. or even the 8.5 oz bottles we used. Make a large batch (several months ahead of the gifting date) in a large glass container and then strain it into the small vessels. You can add a piece of vanilla into the gift bottles if you like.
Any glass bottle or jar with a tight lid can be used to make homemade vanilla. You may have to do some math if you want it to come out perfectly for different sized jars or bottles.
This recipe is set up two 750 milliliter bottles of vodka. So it’s pretty easy to use the bottles for large container storage.
If you plan to use this for just your kitchen you can strain the infused vanilla from your larger storage bottle and pour it into smaller bottles that fit well into your spice rack when it’s ready to use.
Can you use plastic containers to make vanilla extract? Plastic is not the best material to use to make homemade vanilla extract. Alcohol will leach toxins into the vanilla with certain plastics over time. To be on the safe side. Choose a good glass container for long term storage of your vanilla extract.
Gifting Homemade Vanilla Extract:
This is such a simple and well appreciated gift.
If your making Homemade Vanilla Extract with gift giving in mind, this recipe is perfectly set up for you. It gives you six 8.5 oz. bottles of pure vanilla to gift to your friends and family. Just add a bow. Viola! You have a lovely foodie gift.
Here is a link to our Like to Know It guide with all of the products needed for the recipe.
We use these small 8.5 oz bottles with a bale top and seal to make sure the infusion does not evaporate. They come in a set of six clear glass bottles and include a fitted funnel and chalk board labels.
Mason jars or any cute jar is fine if the seal is tight and you can easily pour and label the jar. If the vanilla beans don’t fit you can cut or bend them to fit the jar.
Dark colored (cobalt or amber) glass jars and bottles are necessary if you store homemade vanilla in well lit areas. Natural light will degrade vanilla over time. For dark pantry areas clear glass bottles are fine.
The bottling process is quite simple.
- Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise to form an open pouch with the beans exposed but left inside.
- Completely submerge the sliced bean pods into the glass jar or bottle.
- Pour the alcohol over the beans and seal the bottle or jar. Tip: To avoid spills use a funnel.
Questions and Answers on Homemade Vanilla Extract:
Here’s a summary of questions and answers that are commonly asked when making homemade vanilla extract.
|What is Vanilla Extract?||Vanilla extract is the product of infusing alcohol with vanilla beans. Over time the alcohol extracts the vanilla flavor and produces vanilla extract.|
|How long does it take to make homemade vanilla extract?||The infusion process takes at least 2 months. But for the best flavor wait even longer. Allowing the process to continue 6 to 12 months before you use the vanilla will give you a deeper richer vanilla extract.|
|How Long will Vanilla Extract Last? Does it ever go bad?||Homemade Vanilla Extract, properly stored and bottled will last indefinitely. But it may lose some flavor after 10 years.|
|What is the best material for bottling vanilla extract?||Choose a good glass bottle or jar that seals tightly.|
|Must Pure grain alcohols be diluted before using them for vanilla extract?||Yes. You must dilute pure grain alcohols, like Everclear, to 80 proof before using them for vanilla extract infusion.|
|What Alcohol Works Best For homemade Vanilla Extract?||A Mid Grade Vodka is a good choice for making Vanilla Extract at home.|
|Which Vanilla Beans Make the best Homemade Vanilla Extract?||Choose a Grade A or B vanilla bean for best results and flavor when infusing homemade vanilla extract.|
|How many Vanilla Beans Should I use?||For the single fold vanilla (the strength we find at the grocer) use 4 vanilla beans (about .8 oz) per 8 oz of alcohol. For a stronger double fold vanilla, use 5 to 6 vanilla beans (1.6 oz) per 8 oz. of alcohol.|
|When is Homemade Vanilla Ready to use?||Vanilla beans need to infuse into alcohol at least 8 weeks before homemade vanilla extract is ready to use for baking. For a more potent vanilla extract wait 3 to 12 months.|
If you have any questions, we are here to help. Please give your recipe reviews and questions in the comment section below. Have a fantastic day!
Find your printable recipe below.
Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe
A simple recipe for fantastically rich homemade vanilla extract. This single fold Vanilla extract makes a wonderful gift for friends, office, holiday parties and neighbors all through the year.
- 1.75 liter bottle (or two 750 mil bottles) vodka. We used Costco vodka. Gray goose is also a good choice for this recipe.
- 24 vanilla beans
Prepare your work area:
- Set out bottles or jar you are using to infuse the vanilla beans
- You will need a funnel, alcohol wipes and labels. We chose these 8.5 oz bottles. They come with a funnel and labels. We chose to use these labels rather than the ones that came with the bottles.
- On your work surface slice each bean pod lengthwise down the center to expose the beans. Do NOT slice all the way through the pod. You want the beans to stay in the pod while infusing.
- Place the beans down into the jars. They need to be submerged completey to infuse so fold or cut the beans as needed to get down to the alcohol fill line. For our bottles we used four bean pods per bottle.
- Set a funnel on the top of your bottle and fill the bottle to the fill line with vodka. Tip: Pour slowly and check the fill often so you don't overfill the bottle. Repeat process until all the bottles are filled.
- Seal the bottles.
- Clean off the bottle surface area you wish to label with an alcohol wipe (provided with the labels we purchased).
- Afix the label to each bottle.
- Set these clear bottles in a dark place in your pantry.
- Shake the bottles at least weekly to help infuse the vanills into the alcohol.
- This vanilla is ready in 8 weeks. But it will be much better if you let it sit and shake it occasionally 6 to 12 months.
For Reference: This recipe makes about 59 oz. of vanilla extract. You can make it in any tightly covered glass (or non reactive) container and let it steep for up to a year before pouring off what you need into small tightly closed bottles.
We chose Grade A Madagascar vanilla beans. There are several grades and different types of vanilla beans that offer different flavor profiles. But use a grade A bean to get the best diffused flavor.
TIPS For GIFTING:
We used these bows. They are just the right size and really cute with these bottles.
If gifting these bottles, leave the beans in and tell the giftee the longer it sits the richer the flavor up to 12 months.
If you planned ahead and have 12 month vanilla to gift, the beans still give a great look and the giftee can reuse them. They will not be as strong but still good for adding to a batch of vanilla extract, vanilla bean ice cream or vanilla sugar.
Amount Per Serving Calories 12Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 0mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g
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