Homemade Vanilla Extract

Recently, I learned something new…how to make homemade vanilla extract. Over the years I have purchased both Imitation Vanilla Extract and Pure Vanilla Extract. If you have purchased either, you know that Pure Vanilla Extract can be expensive.

If you have ever read the ingredients label on the Imitation Vanilla Extract, it can be a bit concerning. I admit, I have a bottle on my shelf right now, and the ingredients include: Water, alcohol, vanilla extract, propylene glycol, invert sugar, caramel color, vanillin, ethyl vanillin, natural and artificial flavor. Without the help of Google, I don’t even know what a few of those are.

If you read the ingredients on the bottle of Pure Vanilla Extract it is generally Vanilla Bean, and Alcohol (40%) or roughly there about.

For anyone wishing to make their own Vanilla Extract, now is the perfect time. With the alcohol sales, you can pick up a bottle of Vodka pretty cheap. Safeway, Fry’s and CVS all have some pretty good sales going on right now.

There are a number of recipes available online, but this is the one I decided to use:



2 Vanilla Beans

1 Cup Vodka


  1. Place 2 vanilla beans on a cutting board and flatten with the side of the knife.
  2. Cut each bean lengthwise.
  3. Cut each bean in half to insure it will be completely covered by the vodka.
  4. Place beans in a small jar with a tight sealing lid.
  5. Add 1 cup of vodka to the jar and shake well.
  6. Place the lid on the jar and seal tight.
  7. Put the jar in a cool, dark place.
  8. Shake the jar once a week.

The extract will need to sit for 3 to 5 months before use.  I started my first batch just about 2 weeks ago.  It already has a nice amber/brown coloring.

P1020240Once the extract has has sufficient time (3 to 5 months) pour the solution through cheesecloth or gold coffee filters to strain out stray vanilla bean pieces.  Store in air-tight containers.

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