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Tutorial: Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Store-bought vanilla can get pretty fancy, but absolutely nothing compares to the real thing. Homemade vanilla extract makes for a perfect handmade gift, and with Mother’s Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to whip some up!

Take my advice and get enough supplies for two batches—after you make one for mom, I guarantee that you’ll want one too!

* Mason jar, 8oz size with tight-fitting lid
* Vodka, 1 cup (Buy the cheap stuff; it won’t make a difference!)
* 3 vanilla beans
* Painting supplies to decorate jar (optional)

* Kitchen scissors
* Measuring cup

**Please note that the links provided above are affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking through.**

Step 1
Using kitchen scissors, snip 3 vanilla beans in half length-wise, then place them in a clean mason jar.

Tip: I bought my vanilla beans in bulk from a local Middle Eastern grocery store for a fraction of the price I’d have paid at Whole Foods or my neighborhood natural market. Vanilla beans can be very expensive, so shop around a bit before you buy!

Step 2
Measure 1 cup of vodka, then add it to the jar with the vanilla beans.

Step 3
Secure the lid firmly on the jar, then store in a dark cool place for at least one month (2 months or more is better), shaking the jar periodically to mix. As the infusing process progresses, the color of the liquid change from clear to a deep, rich brown.

Step 4
If you’re planning to give the jars as gifts, you can give them an extra-homey feel by labeling them with acrylic paints.

The best part about making your own vanilla extract: As the jar empties, you can top it off with more vodka. The vanilla beans will continue to infuse for years to come!


    • Real vanilla extract–even the kind you get at the store–is made through long-term infusion of vanilla beans in alcohol. (If you’re using it for cooking, the alcohol generally burns off during the process. I know that this is okay for many who prefer not to consume alcohol, but I do realize that this might not be your preference.) Alas, as far as making the recipe teetotal-friendly, I don’t think that I can be of much help. I know that imitation/non-alcohol vanilla extracts exist, but I’m not sure how they’re made or if one could replicate the process at home.

      • Sarah says:

        I did a quick search, and a couple of recipes came up. Instead of alcohol, they were using food grade glycerin as the carrier liquid. Ive made my own vanilla extract with vodka, and its great. Instead of refilling the bottle though, i took the beans out and put them in tupperware with white sugar for a couple of weeks. That was tasty too for cinnamon sugar toast.

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