Homemade Gift Series #1: Vanilla Extract

How to Make Your Own Real Vanilla Extract

For the last few years, one of the most prized possessions in our pantry has been a gigantic bottle of imported Mexican vanilla extract.

It’s not that imitation stuff that you get on sale at the store, with weak vanilla flavor and added sweetener. This stuff is pure unsweetened vanilla extract. It makes pies and cookies and homemade ice cream and sweetbreads and cakes and countless other things we make at home sublime.

A month or so ago, I noticed that our big bottle was finally running low. We decided to stop by an ethnic grocery to look for some replacement, but just as that conversation was happening in our home, our old friend Carrie posted about her experience making homemade vanilla extract.

It turns out that it’s pretty simple. Get some decent vodka (not the cheap stuff that often has impurities), some vanilla beans, slice open the vanilla beans, and toss them in the vodka bottles. Store, shake about once a week, and in a few months, you’ll have amazing homemade vanilla extract.

Even better, if you can find some small bottles, you can easily give this homemade extract away as gifts to your friends who bake things in their own kitchen.

What You’ll Need to Make Vanilla Extract

Vodka

After some hunting, I found a great bargain on 3 1.75 liter bottles of Smirnoff (since you need to use at least a mid-level vodka – you can also use rum, if you’d like). I paid $12 per 1.75 liters of it – about 7.4 cups. Considering that a cup of vanilla extract will last quite a while, we’ll be making a lot of extract.

The challenge, however, was finding the beans. Our local grocery store wanted $5 per bean pod for organic vanilla beans. Considering you’re supposed to use a few bean pods per cup of extract you want to make, that adds up fast, making this seem prohibitively expensive. Carrie found a better deal – she was able to pick them up for $0.79 a pop at her local co-op. Still, not inexpensive enough.

So I went online and checked out every website I could find about making homemade vanilla extract. After sending a few emails, multiple people suggested that I check out Vanilla Products USA, which sells vanilla beans on eBay and has a 100% buyer feedback rating.

I bought a pound of beans from them, shipped to me for $24.99. They threw an extra quarter pound of beans into the package for me.

What does a pound of vanilla bean pods look like?

Beans

A pound of these beans totaled about 160 pods, so we actually bought 200 pods for $24.99 – about 12 1/2 cents a pod.

So, our cost per cup of the raw ingredients for the extract is about $0.38 for three pods, plus $1.75 for the vodka, making a cup of this extract cost just a smidge over $2. Since a good extract is used only a teaspoon at a time, the cost per use of this extract is about four cents.

What We Did

Sliced lengthwise

Sarah and I took turns cutting the beans. We would take a bean, slice it lengthwise (as seen in the picture), and tear it into two halves. Then, we’d plunk both halves into the vodka bottle.

One (obvious, in retrospect) thing we discovered is that the beans add volume to the bottle. The solution is easy – pour off about a cup of the liquid before you begin adding beans, then fill up the bottle after you’re done adding the beans.

Beans in a bottle

We added different amounts of beans to each bottle, just to experiment. Based on the materials I’ve read about vanilla extract, there won’t be an enormous strength difference between the bottles of extract.

Once we have our beans in the bottles, we just seal ‘em, shake ‘em vigorously for a minute or so, and then put them in a cool, dry place. After that, shake the bottle(s) once a week or so and you’ll have usable extract in a month, though most sites encourage at least two months of extraction and as many as six months is sometimes encouraged.

Three bottles, with the left one already coloring

As you can see, the vanilla extraction has begun! The bottle on the left is after only an hour of extraction and you can already see the browning of the liquid.

What’s next?

Each week, shake the bottle to keep the extract going. We marked it on the calendar, actually, to remind ourselves. When the extraction is done (we’re shooting for about December 15), pour out the extract and filter out the beans, the pods, and other particulate matter. A few coffee filters should do the trick wonderfully.

From there, you can put the extract back into the bottle or into other containers as per your desire.

For gift giving, we’re going to give the extract in small glass bottles with lids (we’re looking for ones that will hold a cup, or eight ounces). Since we know that we’re going to need these but we have time to search for them, so we can put our bargain-hunting skills to the test. At the end of the series, we’ll show you our final product (with some home-designed labels).

Next week, we’re going to talk about a homemade item that’s going to have a gigantic “WARNING! DANGEROUS!” label at the top of the post describing it.

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  1. Aryn says:

    That sounds like a lovely gift – jut beware of house guests!

    I head a story on an NPR food show recently about a woman who decided to make that same gift. She bought beautiful bottles and added rather pricey brandy to it, then added the vanilla beans she’d brought home from France. She put it at the bottom of the wet bar in her house.

    Fast forward a couple months and she has a house guest from another country. When the guest left, she discovered that all the bottles were empty! The guest had drunk all of the brandy vanilla extract without even asking.

  2. Julie says:

    What a shame this post didn’t appear last week! I just bought vanilla extract (real, not imitation). On the ingredients panel it lists bourbon as the alcohol, though. Interesting.

    My question would then be, what did you do with the vodka you poured off to fit the beans in the bottle, Trent? ;)

  3. SwingCheese says:

    I will only ever use real vanilla, no imitation, which lacks flavor. I’m interested in trying this DIY experiment, as I bake frequently, and go through vanilla rather quickly.

  4. amy says:

    We use this same method to make infused vodka for xmas gifts. We use cranberry and orange and bottle in cute 1 liter bottles.

  5. Robin Crickman says:

    I wonder if EverClear or similar neutral grain spirits product would work as well as vodka or maybe even better. There you can be sure there will be no other flavor but that from the vanilla beans.

  6. JJ says:

    Loving, loving, loving this series already! :-)

  7. Maggie says:

    I read in a southern cookbook to make vanilla extract using bourbon, so that is how I do it.

  8. Jackie says:

    Why on earth are you making 22 cups of vanilla extract? You must have a huge list of people you buy gifts for. Especially since this is only the first in a whole series of gifts you’re making.

  9. Bri says:

    Too funny. I have a half dozen 8 oz bottles of extract steeping in my guest room closet right now. I started them three weeks ago so they’d be ready for Christmas gifts. Great minds…

  10. Jennifer says:

    Well, I know what I’m doing this year, however I may just try using bourbon instead. I do live in Kentucky, so that would be the natural choice ;) I know just what to do with that “extra” too. Who knew making presents could be so much fun!

  11. Melissa says:

    I never thought about how vanilla is “extracted”. We have a bottle of very nice vodka which was a gift, but we don’t actually drink vodka…but we certainly bake with vanilla! Thanks for the idea!

  12. melissa says:

    Whole Foods website has a “recipe” to do something similar and make vanilla flavored sugar by adding vanilla beans to sugar and letting it sit for a while. Could be a great combo to this gift.

  13. bethh says:

    I’m using homemade vanilla extract and love it. Thanks for the timely post – I can actually get organized and make some for gifts if I want!

    I look forward to hearing about sourcing bottles – I definitely need some for some homemade liqueurs I’ve made and want to give as gifts.

    One final suggestion: leave some of the bean specks in the extract that you give away. The little flecks are pretty awesome-looking in food, and are a reminder that this is the REAL deal.

  14. Adrienne says:

    Look at https://www.sks-bottle.com/ (I have no affiliation. I just read about the company on another blog.) They have glass bottles for $1-1.50 each (sold in cases of 12 or 24).

    Nice idea. The vanilla would be especially nice with some homemade muffin mix and maybe even a knitted pot holder.

  15. Johanna says:

    It would never have occurred to me that anyone would sell vanilla beans by the pound…or that anyone would buy them. :)

    Any interest in staging a blind taste test between the homemade extract, the store-bought extract, and the imitation stuff?

    (And a nitpick: I don’t think “sweetbreads” is the word you want there.)

  16. Courtney says:

    This has been on my to-do list since we do so much baking and go through lots of vanilla. The cost of the beans has been the stumbling block – they are so pricey that it just hasn’t seemed worthwhile. I will have to check out the ebay seller that you mentioned.

  17. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Just looked up the definition of “sweetbreads” – yuck! Let’s hope that isn’t what Trent is talking about :)

  18. Jessica says:

    I really have to give this a try. What a great gift, just about every household uses vanilla. Can’t wait for more! Thanks!

  19. Johanna says:

    @Courtney: I’ve never heard of them being made with vanilla, anyway. But I’m a vegetarian, so what do I know?

  20. Lindsay says:

    I’d love to know what kind of beans you used… Tahitian organic? This is a perfect, budget-friendly gift!

  21. Stephan F-- says:

    To make cutting the beans up easier for next time try a bean frencher. Usually used for frenching string beans but will make doing vanilla beans easy too.

  22. Scott says:

    My fiance and I are actually doing something very similar for our wedding. We’re giving out homemade vanilla extract as a present to all of our guests.

    For bottles, take a look at specialtybottle.com. They have some excellently priced bottles. We wanted an apothecary style bottle a little bit fancier with a cork top. We procured these http://www.couronneco.com/6534g15cobalt-blue-glass-bottle.htm

  23. Margaret says:

    I’ve read (but not tried) that you can make orange and lemon extract the same way. Just add the peel (no pith) to vodka and wait.

  24. sara says:

    A German friend of mine made licorice-like vodka by dropping a red pepper into a bottle of vodka and leaving it there for six weeks. At that time we where students so it was just any old vodka, but I’m starting to imagine how very much better it would taste with some really good stuff…

  25. Availle says:

    You can make any kind of sweet liqueur like that. A couple of years ago I was all into Lemon Liqueur. Essentially you add sugar, lemon juice and zest (don’t use the white part!), some cinnamon and cloves to the vodka. Leave for 3 months in a dark place, and strain. My grandmother made some with strawberries and kiwi…

    I’m sure there are plenty of detailed recipies online.

  26. Rebecca says:

    We do this all the time, but we use a very cheap store brand vodka with no noticeable difference. Also, don’t strain the vanilla after it is done. All those little flecks pack major flavor. I just add more vodka to the old bottle with the same beans and re brew.

    This stuff is sooooo good you will become a major vanilla addict and us it much more than a teaspoon at a time.

  27. done that says:

    Since you have the vodka and all those vanilla beans better put up some bottles of kahlua while you’re at it. Much better than store bought.

  28. rosa rugosa says:

    Great post – I’m really interested in ideas for homemade gifts, but gifts people would actually WANT and USE. This hits it for sure. And the bakers in my life are foodies with a real thing for quality, so when I buy them vanilla, it costs about $20. for a 8-oz bottle from Williams-Sonoma or Baldwin’s.

  29. Bill says:

    This is very similar to how you make Limoncello which makes a pretty nice gift also.

  30. Kate says:

    Oh…yum…Kahlua is so easy and so good.

  31. Jen says:

    Oooh, awesome, thanks!

  32. Ryan says:

    Cool idea. What are the chances I can convince a 21+ year old person that this is why I need them to buy me Smirnoff?

  33. John says:

    You can use cheaper vodka and run it through a Brita water filter a couple of times and it will be just as good as the more expensive vodkas.

  34. Courtney20 says:

    FYI Trent, “sweet breads” = pastries; “sweetbreads” = glands of a cow or sheep.

  35. Mary says:

    I did this this summer! I spent more for my beans though. I actually looked at the very site you ordered yours from, but I didn’t need 22 cups of vanilla, so I spent about $0.80 per bean at a local store.

    The recipe I read said the beans would continue to leach out flavour for a very long time tho, so I’m not going to drain the beans out. I’m just going to periodically top off my jar of extract and see if it will actually maintain its strength.

  36. kristine says:

    Great series.
    I think it would be very sophisticated to use a tall thin “pourer bottle” (usually for olive oil or vinegar, and leave a few beans in. I can imagine such a thing in a gourmet shop.

    I was able to find inexpensive spice bottles for sage and rosemary with chrome lids online. The trick is buying them by the case. In retrospect, however, I would have just put out a “want” on freecycle for baby food jars, and painted or covered the lids with fabric.

  37. Nicki says:

    This is an amazing gift idea, and the level of effort required (for me) is perfection! I might have to try this in the next week or so!

  38. Jules says:

    I don’t know how I’d feel about getting a bottle of vanilla extract as a gift–I mean, I make this stuff regularly. For me, it’s a staple–it’d be like getting a bag of flour or something. Definitely make sure that none of the people on your gift lists are fancy-pants bakers!

  39. Chris says:

    I think you may have better results using neutral grain spirits (up to 95% alcohol) rather than vodka (typically between 35% and 50% alcohol). Availability may be an issue, though, since I don’t think grain alcohol is legal for sale in some states.

    You must use a LOT of vanilla for this to be economical! I doubt I go through half a bottle of vanilla extract in an entire year.

  40. moom says:

    Where can you get that much vodka for so little? Don’t taxes on alcohol mean it is hard to that low a price? And I would be suspicious of the Vanilla too?

  41. deRuiter says:

    You could use a one cup Ball quilted jelly jar with the two piece lid and after the vanilla was used, the jar could have many years of use ahead for making jam or preserves. I’ve been selling my excess jelly and other canning jars on Craigslist to declutter the cellar. The jars are also available at yard sales, particularly where the people are selling off the kitchenware of older people who canned, or where people were given gifts of home made jam and jelly in these jars. .

  42. Beth says:

    Ooooh. Thanks for sharing! I think I’m going to like this series :)

  43. Cathy says:

    You can also make vanilla sugar with the beans. It’s fantastic and a great way to use all of your beans.

  44. Cheryl says:

    I was wondering what kind of vanilla beans you chose from the ebay seller, I noticed there are many varieties offered…

  45. A says:

    Question: how long does the extract last once it’s in the final bottles?

    Comment: check out sunburstbottle.com if you’re buying lots of bottles. I used to buy from them all the time and haven’t found similar bottles for less…

  46. diane says:

    After the vanilla extract is ready there is still amazing flavor left in the beans. I let them dry out and bury them in sugar for a few weeks to make yummy vanilla sugar for tea and coffee.

  47. Leah W. says:

    #35 A: It’ll last years. Seriously, years. I mean, it’s just alcohol. It’d probably survive a nuclear attack.

    Trent, it’s too late now, but next time, try heating the vodka first over medium to medium-high heat until it’s kind of…steamy, I guess is the word. It speeds up the vanilla extraction process and takes care of your “too much vodka in the bottle” problem, as some of the liquid evaporates while heating.

    Finally, I’ve been making my own vanilla for a while now. The only thing I’ve found is that the type of bean you use has a huge effect on the flavor and strength of your extract. For instance, my Madagascan vanilla beans are milder and a bit more mellow than Mexican vanilla beans. For a stronger vanilla flavor in my final product, I just use more vanilla extract than I would if I were using Mexican vanilla extract.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment. I’m passionate about my baking hobby!!

  48. Renee says:

    I too, see there are many varieties of the vanilla beans. Can someone please tell us the difference. Trent what did you use. Thank you in advance.

  49. KC says:

    This can make great gifts. I’m especially thinking of older family members like aunts, neighbors, etc. Of course young people and anyone who cooks would like this, too. This is great for people who already have everything or who you have no idea what to get them.

  50. Carole says:

    When you wrote “homemade gifts”, I inwardly groaned as most of that stuff is pure clutter. Sometimes the cost of the materials are quite expensive, too. However I think the vanilla idea is very good. Although it could be expensive.

  51. KathyD says:

    Using cognac or a quality brandy as the base makes for a very smooth extract. I always leave the old bean in and just add a new one when I top off the liquid. Never disappointed. Full vanilla flavor but not as dark as the Mexican extract which may have caramel added to enhance color.

  52. Ginna says:

    I have done this for a couple of years – and Vanilla Products is a great store. They also sell different varieties of beans, so it’s fun to experiment. I’ve made extract with bourbon, brandy, vodka, whiskey, and grand marnier (truly exceptional on ice cream).

    The other trick is that you can keep topping up the liquor for a while – the beans will have more extract in them. Once they slow down, you can take them out, let them dry, and put them in a sugar bowl. They will mildly flavour the sugar, which is delicious in tea particularly.

  53. I would love receiving this gift for Christmas! Doubt I will try it myself, as a non-drinker, just doesn’t seem up my ally. Maybe I should get some vanilla beans though and do some vanilla sugar. That stuff can be yummy. :) Love my Penzey’s but this would be a neat idea too.

  54. Jeanne says:

    Try Specialty Bottle for the bottles. Lots of different sizes/shapes, reasonable prices. They also have tins, jars, etc. http://www.specialtybottle.com/

  55. Judy Duncan says:

    Great idea for the vanilla extract. Homemade bath salts are an easy gift to make. Kosher salt, epsom salt, fragrance and food color. Put in a mason jar with a ribbon and your done. I’m making lavender this year. I also picked up lavender candles at the dollar store to go with the salts to make a “bath set”.

  56. Roberta says:

    Great post! I have a question though. Is it best to run your knife along the inside of the split pod, and scrape out the seeds and dump those into the vodka and not use the pods themselves, or do the pods themselves contribute a lot of flavor to the extract? Anyone know about this?

  57. Mary says:

    Well, after reading this post this morning, I went out and bought three bottles of vodka (the first time in my LIFE that I’ve bought vodka!) and ordered the vanilla beans online. This will be the PEFECT gift for my two daughters (one bottle will be for me). That’s a lot of vanilla extract, but each of us go through a lot and according to what I’ve read, it lasts forever. I’m planning on leaving in the seeds and pods–I like the way they look. I know my daughters will LOVE getting this! I’m so excited to make such a useful and unusual gift. Can’t wait for the rest of the series.

    Good one, Trent!

  58. Matthew says:

    Thanks Trent, just bottled my first batch with some vanilla beans I bought in India for $1. I really like only to use real vanilla extract in my cooking, so I am keeping this one!

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  59. Bill says:

    @#36 Leah W

    Don’t do that, that “steamy” you are noticing is the alcohol evaporating. It boils at around 160 degrees. Which is the bases for how a still works. In this case if you want to reduce the alcohol content just add water.

  60. KoryO says:

    Will have to try this, but would also like to tell your readers to avoid the Mexican vanilla sold to tourists. They use coumarin, a blood thinner. It adds to the wonderful aroma but could possibly do a number on your liver and/or kidneys. Those really big, really cheap bottles are probably loaded with it.

  61. Gretchen says:

    How many people do you have on your gift list that you need to make this much extract?

    I assume also it’s going in a basket with some of the other days of gifts.

  62. Laura says:

    about how many vanilla bean pods did you add to the bottle?

  63. AnnJo says:

    I’m surprised nobody’s speculated on the mystery homemade “danger” product for next week. Homemade bleach? Homemade fire extinguisher refill? Can’t wait to find out!

  64. Stacy says:

    We are doing this for gifts this year as well. We did a small bottle for ourselves to test it out and it was great. We used spiced rum- the flavor of the rum added to the flavor of the vanilla. We have also done it with vanilla beans that were already dried out and unusable (poor storage on our part) and it worked great.
    This is a bit expensive in smaller quantities, but breaking down the cost per bottle for gifts it isn’t bad at all.
    I had another link for the glass bottles but the one that A (#35) posted is less than half the price so we’ll be ordering from there when the time comes.

  65. AnnJo says:

    Oh, I forgot this was for gifts. Both my previous guesses wouldn’t qualify.

  66. sewingirl says:

    For all you bakers and drink connoisseurs, my Mother used to make “vanilla sugar” after every visit to my Aunt in LA. She could get the best Mexican vanilla beans, dirt cheap at the farmers market (this was the 60’s). She would open 2 to 4 beans, stand them in a clean quart jar, and fill with granulated sugar. Screw a lid on tight, store in cool, dry place for 6 or 8 weeks, and you get the most wonderful, aromatic, vanilla infused sugar for baking, or delicious coffee or tea! Another great gift idea.

  67. Kevin says:

    I just have one question:

    Where can I find 1.75L of vodka for $12? Around here, that much vodka costs at least $50!

  68. Systemizer says:

    There’s something odd about this series.

    You’re creating content for your blog which allows you to feed your family.

    Surely that cheapens your gift-giving.

    And I don’t mean the gifts, I mean the act.

    When you visit family and friends in your Lexus may I suggest you bring along a bottle of AOC wine as well.

  69. KoryO says:

    Kevin, I think he meant $12 per bottle. I know Smirnoff’s not the top brand but I think that’s the going rate. (I’m a Stoli girl myself, although Iowa’s Clearheart isn’t bad at all….)

  70. Jill says:

    Fun and cheap bottles to be had at American Science and Surplus: http://www.sciplus.com/index.cfm.

  71. Alexandra says:

    When I made vanilla extract, I bought a container of vanilla beans (Spice Island brand or something, don’t remember the cost), and simply split them, poured in vodka, and left it in my cupboard. I use it whenever I cook. I don’t shake it, I haven’t taken out the beans. The small container — it’s the size of a normal spice jar — has lasted me about a year, and I bake fairly frequently.

    So — don’t worry about shaking the bottles or taking out the vanilla pods. They continue to extract, and they look really pretty in the bottle.

  72. Chad says:

    Systemiser: how is this any different from working in an office, then using the money you earn to buy presents? Trent is working hard; just because we directly benefit from his work doesn’t make it any less legit.

    Everyone else: does the fact that this is made from alcohol affect the final cooked product? My family tends to steer clear of alcohol, so I wouldn’t want to give them this unless the alcohol was insignificant.

  73. carmen says:

    Looking forward to seeing other homemade gifts. I didn’t know vanilla extract, how do you use it?

  74. John says:

    This post has motivated me to try the same thing – making homemade vanilla extract is a previously unheard of concept to me, but sounds simple enough. I’ve been toying with various gift ideas, and I must say, this is currently a leading contender.

    Anyone else looking for homemade ideas (that start with alcohol) should check out how to make homemade Limoncello. Well worth it. (And coincidentally should also come attached with a “WARNING! DANGEROUS!” tag as well!)

  75. Rebecca says:

    I’ve seen this recipe many times, and always wanted to try it. The problem is that every other time I’ve seen this, the author is very vague about what kind of alcohol to use. Saying to use a mid-level vodka doesn’t mean anything to a nondrinker. The only alcohol we ever have in the house is the sake I use when I cooked Asian style foods. :P

    So, thank you! I’ll pick up some Smirnoff after work tomorrow to get our extract started. Even have the vanilla beans in the house already (although, I’m loving your ebay find!).

  76. McGillicuddy says:

    For the DIY purist (who lives in a relatively warm area), you could grow the vanilla. Vanilla is a beautiful vine-shaped orchid that grows easily from cuttings. Only problem is it takes years to mature, and each flower must be pollinated by hand to form the bean. I have done this, but for the purpose of propagating the orchids from seed (perhaps more trouble than it’s worth), not to make extract. Most vanilla comes from Madagascar, though the plant is native to Mexico. Knowing how labor-intensive production is, perhaps you can better appreciate why vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world (after saffron).

  77. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Where I grew up, we always referred to zucchini bread, banana bread, pumpkin bread, etc. as “sweetbreads.”

  78. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “When you visit family and friends in your Lexus may I suggest you bring along a bottle of AOC wine as well.”

    We don’t own a Lexus. We drive low-end makes and models. I think you have me confused with someone else.

  79. Systemizer says:

    @chad (#71)
    “how is this any different from working in an office, then using the money you earn to buy presents?”

    The office worker doesn’t have to buy gifts to keep his job. It’s a real sacrifice. He’s “un-feeding” his family.

    Trent is making gifts, reporting on it, and, as a result, deriving revenue from it. Since he gets to have his cake and eat it too there’s no real sacrifice.

  80. Systemizer says:

    @Trent (#78)

    “We don’t own a Lexus. We drive low-end makes and models.”

    So much for my credibility.

  81. Carrie says:

    The bottle of vanilla that I posted about at my blog is doing quite well. When I first opened the vodka to make the extract, it smelled like alcohol. Now (7 weeks later) it smells nothing of alcohol and only of yummy vanilla! We haven’t tried it yet, as we’re using the last of a store bough bottle of vanilla, but I’m looking forward to using it in the winter.

    Regarding purchasing beans – I found sources online (as you did) where I could have purchased more beans and a significantly lower cost. At the time, it was important to me to have certified organic beans from a company I trust. I’m still trying to come up with more ideas for the 9 or so beans I have left – I don’t know what I would have done with a whole pound of beans!

    I hope your vanilla turns out wonderfully, and that everyone who receives it as a gift really appreciated it, too!

  82. Chad says:

    @Systemizer: Okay, I think I understand where you’re coming from. However, I tend to view the gift-making and the article writing as separate activities – there’s an art to making vanilla extract, but there’s a totally different art to writing articles. O wouldn’t think less of a beautiful framed photo as a gift just because the artist is a professional who also therefore got better at his/her craft by taking it. I suppose it comes down to motivation and intention on the part of the giver, and I think we’ll both agree that isn’t at fault here.

  83. Trent,

    I never thought of making a vanila extract at home, until now. Thanks to your easy recipe I am on my way to try it!

  84. rosa rugosa says:

    @71 Chad: I’ve always heard that the actual alcohol dissipates during the cooking process. I do know for a fact that baked goods made with vanilla extract do not taste “boozy” and the amount of alcohol is certainly not enough to create any kind of intoxicating effect.

  85. reulte says:

    Virtually all ‘extracts’ have alcohol as an ingredient. In theory, the alcohol does bake off but even if not — how much alcohol is in a cake serving when the recipe called for 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for the entire cake?

    My vanilla bean/vodka extract has been in my cupboard for 16 months or so and is divine. Since I used a baby food jar, I had to chop the bean into inch-long pieces before splitting them. I top it off occasionally with a bit of vodka. I use a little in a cup of milk for myself some nights. I think I’ll try the bourbon and/or rum version next.

    Leave the vanilla bean/s in the gift bottle for several reasons – so they know it is ‘authentic’ vanilla bean extract, it will continue to flavor the liquor for ages, and the bean is preserved for future use in vanilla sugar or creme brulee or some other desert.

    Trent – They probably referred to them as sweet breads; but it is hard to hear that space in-between.

  86. Cheryl says:

    Family friend was given vanilla extract made without using alcohol by a Mormon friend of theirs. Don’t know how they did it, though.

  87. Amy says:

    This sounds very easy! I’ll have to make some for a couple special people on my list this year!

  88. Leah says:

    @ Johanna: yes, in the midwest, we call any quick bread with sugar in it a “sweetbread.” I was quite confused when I moved to Minnesota and was asked to bring sweetbread to a church function! It is a local expression.

    My brother did this for my dad one year for Christmas. Definitely quite yummy! I buy my vanilla extract from Trader Joe’s (the real stuff), and they once had a vanilla paste that was to die for. If I could make the vanilla paste, I would be a happy, happy camper.

    I really love this gift idea. Maybe I should talk to my boyfriend about making this for our friends :-)

  89. Cristina says:

    Hi there, I find you through The Daily Brainstorm. I recently posted about how to make vanilla extract, and I follow the same method you use. I usually keep it for 6 months – it smells HEAVENLY!!!!

  90. Matt Jabs says:

    This is awesome Trent. We actually an empty bottle with a few beans in it that someone gave us a long time ago… all we have to do is add the vodka – but we just hadn’t gotten around to it yet, now we will.

    That’s another gift idea, make kits so people can make it themselves.

  91. Karen says:

    Thanks Trent – will start mine this weekend! Can’t wait!

  92. Kelley says:

    I am so excited by this article, that I ran out the next day and bought the stuff to get it started…and then I had to wait for the vanilla beans to show up. :) Vanilla extract is now sitting in my cupboard brewing.

    So, I found this website: https://www.specialtybottle.com/index.asp
    with some nice and very inexpensive amber bottles. You might want to check it out!

  93. Shawn says:

    I’m nearly three weeks into this project. Made mine with the Madagascar beans from the same eBay site (and am very happy with what I received from them!). I went with six full beans per cup of vodka. I added in very small amount of sugar syrup (roughly two tablespoons per cup).

    Been shaking it daily, but it hasn’t really darkened up that much in almost three weeks…getting a little worried. Smells great though.

  94. Erica says:

    $12?!?! Are you kidding me?!

    Boo.

    In Canada, particularly Ontario, 1.75L of vodka can’t be had for less than $54.

    I kid you not.

    http://lcbo.com/lcbo-ear/lcbo/product/details.do?language=EN&itemNumber=38505

    No wonder entertaining runs us dry, (no pun intended).

  95. Jarrod says:

    Touche. Great arguments. Keep up the great work.

    Here is my web-site: my sources (Jarrod)

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