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.
Love this! These would be really great gifts to make for friends and family.
I am SO excited about this! I am always wondering what to do for people at Christmas time, and this will work for quite a few! Thanks for the how to as well as the links for all that is needed!
Love this!! And thank you for the labels and all of the links for where to purchase. Can’t wait to do this. I have a secret love for pop top glass containers, and these are too cute! Perfect gift idea maybe wrapped up with a mason jar with a premixed paleo something or other to show my family just how wonderful this lifestyle is. THANK YOU!
About how many whole vanilla pods are in 1/4 pound? I have tried this with a liter of vodka and about 10 pods.
These photos. GAH! I love it.
Great recipe! Thanks for sharing! My girlfriend and I love to use Infinity jars to store our homemade vanilla extract, it keeps it fresh for ages.
I would like to print your labels, but as it is a PDF file, it will not allow me to print my name or put the dates on it. Can you help? BTW I have a Mac computer.
Hey Yvonne the labels are meant to be printed and then you full in your name and the dates with a pen, pencil or marker 😉
Sorry I should have been more clear about that 😉
Wonderful info and links wrapped up in your signature style. You have gifted us with an easy yet elegant idea for gift giving. Love the alternative for making the extract alcohol free. I will be making this for holiday presents this year.
Brilliant! Those labels are lovely.
Love those kinds of no fuss recipes and that you included this free download is even better 🙂
Love everything about this post, thank you Beth!
How awesome is this?! Thank you for taking care of my Christmas gift list, the label, the bottle, everything! You’re amazing! (I would like to add another exclamation point but I don’t know where.)
What a great gift idea!! Thank you so much for this post!
Beth, these are incredible! The labels and the bottles are drop-dead gorgeous, and such helpful tips and resources. You’re awesome.
You are the BEST! I love these labels. 🙂
Were you able to buy the kraft labels locally or did you go online to purchase them? I’m also in South OC and would prefer to buy them locally. Thanks.
1.) These are adorable.
2.) I love that you’ve provided printable labels.
3.) I love making homemade holiday gifts.
4.) I’ll be pinning this and testing it out closer to the holidays!
Thanks for the recipe! I’m a little confused though…in the above section and in the recipe, you said to use the grade 1 certified organic extract beans to get the best flavor and lowest moisture content. But in the “notes” section, you said the Madagascar Vanilla Beans are your favorite ones to use, and are best for homemade extract and for price.
When I look up the Madagascar beans, it claims they are the best for flavor ..and because of the higher moisture content, it means a better quality bean (though I can’t find anywhere that is says organic)
So..is it best to go with the 100% organic Extract Vanilla bean or the Madagascar Vanilla bean?
Great catch Heather. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I meant when/if I cannot find extract grade organic beans – that is my choice. Both are really great options and both work well. Sorry that was a bit confusing. I updated the notes to hopefully be a bit more clear that way. Thanks for the comment! xo
Why are vanilla extracts typically made with alcohol? What is it’s function in the process? Thanks!
This looks wonderful! One question though, can the vanilla beans be used/reused or are they now for the trash? Thank you.
There isn’t too much flavor left in them and will have some of the alcohol soaked into them obviously, but you can toss them into a smoothie or something, so as not to waste them. I usually just leave them in the bottle until the extract is all gone then toss them into a smoothie or something else.
Love this and love that you also provide a beautifully designed label in addition.
So excited to try this! One question – do you split your beans in half/quarters or do you just put the whole beans in the bottles?
The extract beans I buy are already kind broken and split, so I just put them right in. Either way will work, to be honest!
You said in a couple comments that you just leave the beans in the bottle until the extract is gone. Not sure how to word this…thinking of tea that gets bitter the longer the bags are left in the water… Does leaving the beans longer not make the extract bitter or too strong?
Love love love the bottles and labels… Too cute!! 🙂
I have never heard of that happening before. I leave the beans in and never take them out, the extract just gets more and more flavorful. Thanks for the comment.
I love the bottles but cannot find them. Specialty Bottle only has them in clear glass. Can you provide where you purchased them?
Mary these are the clear glass that I used. I believe this is the bottles I used: http://www.specialtybottle.com/dessertclearglassbottle85oz250mlwswingtop.aspx
[…] Homemade Vanilla //Tasty Yummies […]
I am so excited to give these as Christmas gifts! I am about ready to throw my printer out the window though. Trying to print labels but they are not syncing up. Any ideas to help? I am very OCD about having the labels centered and straight.
Hmm Jenny, that’s weird. Are you using the exact label that I recommend? There are SOOO many factors that might be causing them to not line up, but most importantly it has to be the same label Avery brand 22808.
Making these for homemade Christmas gifts this year. I AM SO THANKFUL that you were so detailed with links for the Specialty Bottles, types of beans you buy, labels and this free download! WOW, so amazing.
I had the same problem with the labels not being centered and straight. After adjusting the PRINTER SETTINGS for US LETTER, trying different settings, I finally realized my printer was scaling the image to 93%. If future users have this problem, just make sure you use the same labels and make sure your printer setting are set up for 100% scale. 🙂
Thank you so much for all the information and also the Downloadable labels and also the templates you used.
I’ve tried making homemade vanilla like this before, but after most of the liquid is gone I find the vanilla beans that I left in the bottle get a fuzzy type mold on them. I end up throwing the rest of the vanilla out. What am I doing wrong?
Hey ! Can’t wait to do this !
Just wondering, when you say 8 oz glass containers, do you just mean a mason jar, like if I’m going to be doing a big batch ? Then after 4-6 weeks transfer it to the smaller bottles?
I am going to make these this year for Christmas – so if I leave the beans in the bottle, do I need to strain before I measure to bake with? Or do I strain to get out the residue and then put the bigger bean pieces back in? I don’t want to give a gift people are going to get annoyed using, but like the idea that they can top it off if I leave the beans in. Thanks!
Yay, such a fun holiday gift. I leave the beans in the bottle, to get maximum flavor. I rarely find that straining is necessary, any little flecks just mean even more vanilla flavor. At the bottom of the bottle, straining may be necessary but I have never found it annoying. And yes, it’s nice that you can just top it off to maximize how much you get of the beans. Hope that helps!
Hi, are those bottles amber or clear? I have been trying to find 8 oz amber bottles, but I can only find them in clear.
These are clear bottles.
Love this idea! I put the vanilla together and purchased the labels following the link provided. Also downloaded the pdf for the labels, but……only three of the nine labels printed within the parameters of the stickers. 🙁
Is it vanilla extract like we use in recipes? Or is this a special mix? The vodka is throwing me off!
Yes, just like regular baking vanilla extract, most high quality vanilla extracts contain alcohol.
First, thank you for this idea. I’m going to make some for Christmas gifts. I’m curious though what you think- Titos is my favorite vodka, but lately I’m wondering if a vodka made with what I’m assuming is genetically engineered corn is the best choice. What are your thoughts?
Hi there Ashley, my thoughts on alcohol, for me personally is this: I consume it so infrequently and in such small amounts, I don’t stress myself about all of those little details. If it were something I was consuming daily and in larger amounts I might be a bit more of a stickler but a cocktail now and again, I just let loose and not worry about those little things. But that’s just me.
Sounds like I’m being uptight. lol
hahah no way, not at all. I hope I didn’t make you feel that way. Trust me, I totally get it and I am with you I really am, I just personally have found I need to let go a bit on some things, when they aren’t the every day stuff. Because I found I can can easily slip into a place where the obsession and the concern can overpower and eating and drinking becomes a chore and a stressor rather than an enjoyment, if that makes sense.
Exactly how many beans per 8 oz bottle?
Ouch, 1/4 lb of beans are running $100 right now. That’s expensive vanilla. Guess that shortage did quite a number on prices this year. Hopefully that changes sooner rather than later. Adorable bottles by the way!