Making Homemade Vanilla Extract (with Vodka and Real Vanilla Beans)

Of the many things that we’re doing currently for the wedding, this particular project probably smells the best. Liz is working on the “gifts” that we’ll be giving each person, and came up with the idea of making our own vanilla extract.

Over the weekend, the vanilla beans she ordered came in the mail and it was a huge bag chock full of them. Having only ever seen dried vanilla beans in the grocery store (where one or two come in a bottle), this was a sight to be behold.

Here’s a closeup of the bag.

Here’s one with the flash, so that the colors are a little more apparent.

Additionally, Liz also ordered three test bottles. She’s not quite sure what size to go with yet, so these were more for comparison purposes. You’ll have to imagine these with a nice little label and maybe a ribbon or two around them.

The process for making vanilla extract is pretty basic – split the vanilla beans so that the seeds are exposed, and dump them in bottles of vodka. They’ll sit for about 2 months, and the whole thing becomes more potent the longer they sit.

Liz can probably correct me if I’ve gotten the details wrong. She’s the one doing this project, and I’m only along for the documentation part of it. She said she got some really funny looks though, when she left Sam’s Wine and Spirits with 5 huge bottles of booze.

Another interesting coincidence: I just noticed that the most recept entry over at The Daily Apple just so happens to be about vanilla beans. And I just learned that vanilla extract peaks at about 2 years, though it can keep pretty much indefinitely. It never goes bad, it just stops improving after 2 years.

I guess we’ll see how things go. I’ll post a few more photos in two months, when we crack these guys open to see how they taste.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Major coincidence! That’s so cool! Please, yes, definitely tell me how it turns out!

    juliet Reply

  2. That’s very cool. I’ve been big into making my own things, ketchup, granola bars, etc, but I never would have thought to try making vanilla extract. I hope it turns out well!

    Dustin Reply

  3. I only other household thing I think i’ve made is laundry detergent. You can’t believe how much money one would save on not buying this item for a year!Ketchup? How do you make that?!Granola bars sound awsome to make. Care to post a recipe?

    Liz Reply

  4. Laundry detergent too! Nice idea, I’ll need to look into that.As for ketchup, I tinkered with this for awhile, and tried several recipes online. Sherie wasn’t a big fan at first, but with a few times trying different things, she likes it more than store ketchups. There are really quick ketchup recipes online, but the way I’ve found it best takes a bit more love and attention.This is the base that I use now. However, I also sweat some crushed garlic cloves with the onions, which is essential I think. I’ve added a tiny dash of ground cloves before which was good. I also use a bit of the ole salt and pepper, but not much.In my experience, reducing it down like this is key. The flavors come together so much better and last longer with storage. The vinegar tends to take over other recipes with time as well, but I don’t have that problem with this base.As for the granola bars, I have to give credit, where credit is due. I use this recipe and I haven’t had to tweak it, I think they’re awesome and so easy to add variety to. He also made his own energy bars in this episode and I’ve made those a handful of times. They’re good, but I’m researching others that don’t use so much soy for the protein.Of course, I haven’t had much time for doing this lately, since I’ve been making all of the twins’ baby food, so I must admit I’ve been store buying ketchup and granola bars again temporarily. It’s hard enough to cook dinner for Sherie and I right now!

    Dustin Reply

  5. Some of these basic things, like granola bars, I just never thought about making myself. It’s pretty impressive what we can all do. :)I’m going to have to try and see if I can make a south beach friendly granola bar concoction now. Thanks for the great idea, and the link.Twins! Now that’s impressive… Congrats.

    Liz Reply

  6. That’s so cool!! I’m curious to see how those turn out.

    Marty J. Reply

  7. Where did you get the vanilla beans?

    Staci Reply

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