Making your own homemade vanilla extract recipe is the easiest thing ever to make. A mason jar and two ingredients is all you need.
Store-bought vanilla extract isn’t exactly the cheapest ingredient to buy. Real vanilla extract only requires the super simple process of taking fresh vanilla beans and a bottle of vodka and mixing them in a bottle. The most difficult thing about the entire process is you need a lot of patience, as homemade extract needs time to get a rich flavor.
Gifting the best homemade vanilla extract for Christmas gifts is a wonderful idea! Think ahead for the next holiday season and make a large batch following these easy steps so you can pass out a great gift later.
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Things Needed to Make a Pure Vanilla Extract Recipe
- Vanilla beans – Madagascar vanilla beans are most common
- 80 Proof Alcohol – Vodka is most commonly used. However rum or bourbon can be substituted.
- Glass Bottles – Mason Jars, amber bottles, or those cute extract bottles with a tight-fitting lid
- Funnel – Not 100% required, but makes the process easier if using a jar with small opening
Vanilla Extract Recipe
Vanilla Extract Ingredients
- Vanilla Beans
Vanilla Extract Recipe Directions
Cut the vanilla beans down the middle with a sharp knife so the vanilla beans are exposed. Don’t split completely all the way through, just open them up. After cutting, place beans into jar.
Pour vodka into the jar. The amount of vodka needed depends on the number of beans used. About 5 beans per cup of alcohol is good. If the beans are not fully submerged, then you don’t have enough vodka. Add more so the top of the bean is covered.
Wait. Place your vanilla extract in a cool dark place. The kitchen cabinet is a perfect home for it. Shake the jar every week or two. Your own vanilla extract will be ready around 6-12 months. If possible, wait the 12 months. It will be more flavorful that way.
How to Store Vanilla Extract
Make sure the extract is stored in an air-tight container.
Store in a cool, dark place. In the cupboard, above the stove, is not a good idea, as that can get warm in there. On the other side of the spectrum, do not place the vanilla extract in the fridge either.
An amber colored jar or darker is the best jar to store the extract in.
Print Vanilla Extract Recipe Here
- 5 or 6 vanilla beans
- 1 cup vodka
- Cut the vanilla beans down the middle with a sharp knife so the vanilla beans are exposed. Don't split completely all the way through, just open them up. After cutting, place beans into jar.
- Pour vodka into the jar. The amount of vodka needed depends on the number of beans used. About 5 beans per cup of alcohol is good. If the beans are not fully submerged, then you don't have enough vodka. Add more so the top of the bean is covered.
- Wait. Place your vanilla extract in a cool dark place. The kitchen cabinet is a perfect home for it. Shake the jar every week or two. Your own vanilla extract will be ready around 6-12 months. If possible, wait the 12 months. It will be more flavorful that way.
Store vanilla extract in a cool, dark place, shaking the jar every 1-2 weeks.
Different Varieties of Vanilla Beans
Shopping for vanilla beans is not quite as simple as one would think. There are many different kinds.
- Grade A Beans: These are the gourmet beans. Higher moisture content.
- Grade B Beans: These are the extraction beans. These are most often used in a vanilla extract recipe.
- Madagascar Vanilla Beans: AKA Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans are the most popular beans used for pure vanilla extract as they have the most flavor of all options.
- Mexican Vanilla Beans: These are known as the best vanilla beans in the world. They have a spicy, woody fragrance. Use these for recipes where vanilla is the star of show.
- Tahitian Vanilla Beans: Some of the most expensive whole beans, with not as much vanilla flavor. These are used mainly for perfume purposes.
- Ugandan Vanilla Beans: The aroma is earthy with hints of milk chocolate. Flavor is sweeter than a Madagascar type of vanilla bean.
Health Benefits of Vanilla Extract
Not only is vanilla extract amazing for making recipes taste good, but when you use a good quality vanilla extra instead of imitation vanilla, there is some health benefits.
Vanillin is found in vanilla beans and therefore, vanilla extract. Vanillin is a powerful antioxidant, with evidence showing it is also an anti-inflammatory and has anti cancer properties.
Some research has shown that certain compounds in vanilla may support brain health.
The aroma of vanilla can help with anxiety. It is known to have an impact on nerves that relieve stress and help make you calm.
Recipes with Vanilla Extract
Vanilla Extract Substitutes
Since vanilla extract does take so long to infuse, if you don’t feel like going to the grocery store to buy a good quality vanilla extract, there are some substitutions that can be made.
- Vanilla paste: 1 to 1
- Vanilla powder: 1 to 1
- Whole vanilla beans
- Maple syrup: 1 to 1
- Honey: 1 to 1