I know it’s been a while since I have shared a Tutorial Tuesday post with you guys, but it’s been a busy few weeks. So, I thought an easy, no frills tutorial would be perfect. No need for step-by-step photos on this one, just one quick step and then we wait.
Making homemade vanilla extract is so easy. You literally need just two ingredients, alcohol and vanilla beans and just a few minutes of prep time. You do need a little patience while the flavor of the vanilla beans is extracted, which takes several weeks. But, it is all more than worth it when you end up with the tastiest, most incredible flavor – perfect for all of your baking needs. Plus, this delicious homemade vanilla extract makes an amazing thoughtful gift.
To start, for a standard vanilla extract, I recommend an inexpensive vodka, at least 70 proof. Cheaper, many times, is better since there are no distinguishing flavors from the vodka, as it can be with a pricer spirit, which can interfere with the vanilla flavor. If you are sensitive to certain grain-based vodkas, I do recommend selecting a certified gluten-free vodka, I like and use Tito’s.
The recommended ratio of vanilla beans to vodka that I have found works best is 1 quart vodka to 1/4 pound of dry vanilla beans. This makes things very easy as I divide this amount among four 8-ounce containers, and it’s very easy to divide the 1/4 pound of beans amongst them. Simple, no crazy math, no crazy precise measuring.
For quality of beans, I suggest 100% certified organic grade 1 extract vanilla beans. These are usually drier than normal vanilla beans, so they have lower moisture content. Oftentimes they aren’t the prettiest or most perfect beans and they may be broken or have splits, but because of this they are usually much cheaper than regular whole vanilla beans and they are perfect for making homemade vanilla extract with. I buy mine from here.
With a decent quality vodka and organic extract grade vanilla beans, each of my 8 ounce jars tend to run me less than $10, this can be made even cheaper with a less expensive vodka. Either way, this is still cheaper then most organic vanilla extracts you buy at the store and you can be sure that it is not only the highest quality and most tasty vanilla extract you’ll ever have, but you can rest easy knowing there are no extra additives and it’s 100% gluten-free!
- 1 quart certified gluten-free vodka
- ¼ pound 100% certified organic grade 1 extract vanilla beans
- 4 8-ounce glass containers
- Evenly divide the vanilla beans amongst the containers you are using and pour the vodka over top. Give it a good shake.
- Store covered in a cool dark place for at least 4-6 weeks, shaking the bottle several times a week.
- When your vanilla extract is ready to be used, strain out the vanilla beans and any residue, if you'd like. A strainer, cheesecloth, nut milk bag or even a ladies nylon stocking would all work just fine. I like giving mine as a gift with the beans still in the bottle and with a date printed on the bottle for when it is ready to use.
- The extract should be stored at room temperature and, like a fine wine, it will only get better the longer it sits.
- For fun flavor variations try your favorite bourbon, rum or brandy instead of vodka.
- For an alcohol-free vanilla extract use vegetable glycerine instead of alcohol.
- Play with various vanilla beans, you can try Tahitian, Madagascar, Mexican and more – each type of bean has it’s own subtle flavor profile. If I cannot get my hands on 100% certified organic extract vanilla beans, I personally find Madagascar Vanilla Beans to be the best for homemade extract and you get the most bang for your buck!
- Buy your beans in bulk, organic whole vanilla beans at the store can run upwards of $9.99 for bean or two. Look on eBay, Amazon, bulk herb retailers, etc.
- You can also make one large batch of vanilla extract at once, in a one-quart container, then simply strain the vanilla beans out and divide the extract amongst the containers after it is ready.
- A great resource for buying bottles is Specialty Bottle
BONUS – PRINTABLE LABELS:
Download a customizable version of these labels to print at home to give your homemade vanilla extract an extra-special personal touch! Go to URL to grab your printable PDF. Simply write your name in under “by:”, fill in the size of your bottle and the date it should be enjoyed by. That’s it. DOWNLOAD HERE.
Print these 2.5-inch diameter labels on any Avery brand 22808 template. I used these brown kraft paper labels.