Monday, December 10, 2012

Get Baked With Liz: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 10:29 AM

One afternoon last fall, I was, per usual, wasting my life away looking at DIY projects on Pinterest — follow me! — when I happened upon a recipe for homemade vanilla. I was so excited! Christmas gifts! Until I realized it takes four to six months to make. Then I set up a reminder in my calendar for July. Seriously.

So this July, I gathered my supplies. Simply:

2.5 liters of vodka
2 growlers (any airtight container will do)
20 vanilla beans (bought here)

Approximate cost: $60.

(Tip: You can save money if you go ahead and buy more beans at once, instead of in multiple stages like I did.)

And here's what you do:

First, split the vanilla beans down the long side to expose the beans. Dump them in the growlers and cover them with vodka. Shake up each growler (or whatever container you're using) for about 30 seconds. Put them in a dark cabinet and try to remember to give them a good shake every week.

Extensive Googling led me to the consensus that you can use the vanilla in as little as three months, but the longer the beans soak, the stronger the vanilla flavor.

So I did all that for five months. It took forever.

I bought containers online at Amazon, and had labels made at

Approximate cost: $43.


Then we had to actually get the newly made vanilla extract into the cute little containers. I seriously just sat staring at it, trying to figure this out. I knew my normal strainer wouldn't catch the small vanilla particles, but I was at a loss as to what would.

Then my husband came up with the genius idea of placing a coffee filter inside the strainer and straining the vanilla extract into a pitcher. Then I used the pitcher to pour it into a funnel into the containers.


Voila! Bottled vanilla extract.

Total cost for 24 bottles: $103. Unit cost: $4.30/bottle.

Honestly, I thought it would be a little cheaper, but if you compare it to non-diluted, pure vanilla extract from the store, it's still a really good value. Store-bought, that's usually something like $9-15 for 4 ounces. Plus, now you have a cute homemade gift to give to all your lovely friends and family!

Now, who knows what I can do with 20 alcohol-soaked vanilla beans? Can I dry them out and make vanilla sugar? Or are they spent?

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