How to Make Vanilla Extract

How to make your own homemade vanilla extract, it's easy! All you need are vanilla beans, vodka and a glass jar.

Commercial vanilla extract usually has simple syrup (sugar water) added to the extract to give it a sweet aftertaste. You can do this if you want, but if you are using the vanilla for baking, there really is no need.

Ingredients

  • 3 vanilla beans
  • 1 cup vodka
  • glass jar with tight fitting lid

Method

vanilla-extract-1.jpg

1 Use kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.

2 Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka.

3 Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer.

Lasts for years. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it, just remember to give it a good shake.

You can also make vanilla sugar by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar of white, granulated sugar. Great way to infuse the sugar with vanilla flavor for baking.

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Comments

  1. astrorainfall

    WOW, it looks so simple. I just assumed it was one of those things that you buy from a store. Thanks for sharing.

  2. ken

    Considering that the alcohol usually bakes away anyways, does it make a difference using a higher quality vodka over something that comes in a container that bounces?

    Great question. I used some midrange Smirnoff for these. Reading through the comments some people use fine vodka, some the cheap stuff. I honestly don’t know if it makes a difference. ~Elise

  3. FoodJunkie

    I bought a large batch of vanilla beans on the internet and everytime I use a bean I drop it in a bottle of white rum. The result is excellent! I will try it with vodka too.

    I love the idea of just plopping the used beans in the bottle of rum. Couldn’t get much simpler than that, and otherwise what are you going to do with that used bean? ~Elise

  4. chai

    I never thought of making my own vanilla extract. Might have to try that next time I buy vanilla beans…

    I usually make my own vanilla sugar though. I use each vanilla bean twice. The first time I do as you suggest, put the split bean in a jar of white, granulated sugar. This bach will have a strong but mild vanilla flavour.
    When that batch of sugar has been used up, I take a jarfull of granulated sugar and the now dry vanilla bean and put in a blender and run the blender for several minutes. The sugar will be grey with powdered vanilla bean and you may have to remove a few remaining larger pieces of vanilla bean. This batch has a sharper vanilla taste so I use it in smaller quantities, mixing it in with plain uninfused sugar.

    The second way of making vanilla sugar is also a good way to reuse vanilla beans that have been used to flavour home made liqueur, but then the sugar will have a slight aroma of whatever else was infusing with the vanilla bean. Perhaps you could reuse the beans from making the extract too, I think I’ll have to try that…

  5. jonathan

    Another kismet moment for us, Elise. I have some homemade extract brewing right now in the pantry, and some vanilla sugar on the counter (great for crusting creme brulee for an over-the-top vanilla flavor).

    I do things a little differently. I buy a small bottle of good vodka — think 200ml Absolut — and simply cram three to four folded (not split) vanilla beans into it. At a cost of $5 – $10 for 1 oz. of the adulterated “pure” stuff at the store, you get 6 – 8 times the amount of genuine pure extract for only a few dollars more. Since the beans aren’t split, it does take a little bit longer to steep. Same deal – keep it away from light and heat and shake the bottle once or twice a week.

    There’s excellent sources for inexpensive vanilla beans on the internet, some organic and from origins all across the globe.

  6. Kate

    I have been making my own vanilla for a few years. It’s so affordable. I usually buy my beans direct on eBay. It saves a TON of money. I have also made it using brandy instead of vodka.

  7. Mike

    This is one of those things I keep meaning to start doing. I’d bought a ton of vanilla a while back, so I have no excuse. I think I’ll get a jar going this weekend and break the cycle of buying small eyedropper sized bottles of extract.

    Also, just to share the love in case it helps anyone out, I got 1/2 lb of vanilla beans for roughly the same price I’d pay for 4 beans at the grocery store: http://organic-vanilla.com/

  8. tone

    Does this really last for years if I keep replacing the vodka? Does the flavor continue to come through?
    I’m interested in doing this but I go through vanilla quickly and get a decent deal on it from Costco (gasp!!) so Im not sure it would be cost efficient (unless I can keep refilling the vodka and keep getting that yummy vanilla flavor)

  9. Beth

    This looks right up my alley, although it will drive my husband nuts! I am always experimenting in the kitchen, and since I am a pretty novice cook, this usually means failed experimenting…

    Question: You said this would be good for years. Does the vodka keep the bean from going bad? Does the bean just lose its flavor after that long? My question really is how will I know that it is time to start a new batch? (Cue “How will I know if he really loves me?!”)

  10. Sandy

    My Husband and I LOVE the Vanilla Beans from http://www.beanilla.com They have a great selection of different varieties/origins of gourmet vanilla beans. We like to experiment and make different flavors of extract using the different types of vanilla beans that they have to offer. I personally like the Bourbon Vanilla for all my general extract needs and then use either the Tahitian or Tonga vanilla extract for my pastries.

  11. Kim U

    I’ve been making homemade vanilla ever since we came home with a pound of vanilla beans from our honeymoon in French Polynesia 7 years ago. Touring a vanilla bean plantation was a highlight of the trip, a very labor intensive process.

  12. Jessica

    I, too, have a big jar of vanilla extract brewing in the pantry – getting ready for Christmas presents. I made a big batch last year – along with (organic) vanilla sugar – and then bought jars and packaged it up. People loved it!

    It’s funny – I use the cheapest vodka available! And for a bit of “difference,” after I pour the extract into the bottles (with a little piece of fresh vanilla bean), I “top off” with a little dark rum, or bourbon, or even Grand Marnier. Mmmmm.

  13. KissTheChef

    Awesome. Have made this before and given it with the end product(cookies, cakes, etc., as gifts along with the recipe. Always a hit.) You can also make a vanilla bean paste similarly. Make a very small batch of simple syrup (only need 1/2 cup or so), add the vanilla bean SEEDS only and 1/2 a cup or so of vodka. This should be a fairly thick slurry if you reduce it enough…I use this paste when regular vanilla extract isn’t a strong enough flavor and I need the bean seeds to show in the final product. (Homemade icecream, vanilla butter or sugar cookies, pound cake)
    Since it has some sugar in the final product, I keep this in the fridge just for insurance against spoilage.
    If vanilla is the key flavor note you want, use the paste with the seeds and you’ll be amazed at the difference….

  14. Laurie

    Actually Ron, you want some water to help extract the water-soluble flavor components of the vanilla. Commercial vanilla extract is 35% alcohol- and if you really want to get as close as possible to the commercial extracts (so you can do a 1:1 subsititution in recipes), single-strength vanilla extract is 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans to one gallon of 35% alcohol.

    Also, to those who have asked: yes, eventually your vanilla beans will be exhausted. If you’re just taking a teaspoon or so at a time a few times a year, and topping off with fresh vodka, you’ll probably be ok for a couple of years. If you want consistency though, use one bottle completely without topping off, then start fresh with a new bean.

  15. AG

    My mother has done this for years but uses PGA or pure grain alcohol instead of the vodca. Since my dad, brother and son are all chemists a little is pretty easy to come by and can be bought at a liquor store also.
    She does start a new batch or puts new pods in every few years but she must have been making it or 30 years or so.

    AG

  16. sally

    I’ve had a vanilla jar in my fridge for years and years. It travelled with me across the Atlantic when I moved here. Economical for one thing and there’s something nice knowing there’s a never ending supply of one of the best smells known to woman and mankind.

  17. Monica

    What if i like to use vanilla for vanilla Dr. Pepper or Cokes? Should I add some simple syrup to the end product in that case?

    This is something I’ll definitely try. Thanks.

  18. Casey

    Perfect timing! I just moved to Scotland and I have only been able to find a sweet vanilla syrup or whole vanilla beans. Now I’ll have real extract for all of my Christmas baking. Thank you!

  19. Andi

    LOVE LOVE LOVE those bottles! I don’t suppose you could share the source? And thanks for the great technique, I love infusing vodka with flavors but never thought to make my own vanilla extract.

    Hi Andy, the bottle (same bottle shot at different times) was from a wonderful bottle of balsamic vinegar I bought at The Pasta Shop on 4th street in Berkeley. I think I may have used a different cork, or maybe it was the same one, but I cut part of the bottom of the vinegar infused cork off, can’t remember. It is a gorgeous bottle, isn’t it? ~Elise

  20. Genelle

    Sounds great! An awesome gift idea! Will it take longer to brew with a larger batch? Would it be better to make several regular size batches?

  21. April

    I’ve been toying with this idea for a while – you’ve convinced me! I just bought 10 Tahitian beans for less than $9! :D I haven’t been able to find such a good deal anywhere else. Thanks!

  22. Lorrie

    I’ve been making my own vanilla for a while too and can say it tastes better to me than anything store-bought. It’s a whole lot less expensive too!
    Mine did not develop the flavor I wanted until after about 4 months. If someone wants to start now on some vanilla for use during the holidays, make a very small batch or it won’t be ready until too late.

  23. saucymomma

    What a wonderful idea! You just inspired my Christmas gifts this year. I’ve made vanilla sugar, but did not know that vodka would make extract. Two of my favorite things….thank you!!!

  24. Linda

    I have been making my own vanilla for about ten years. I use an inexpensive bottle (a fifth) of brandy or cognac and add seven to eight vanilla beans to the bottle each time I make a new batch. (When I have a recipe that calls for vanilla seeds, I get a new jar of beans and then just add the leftover pods to the bottle.) A bottle lasts about a year around here. I don’t refrigerate it. I usually start a bottle in March or June, depending on how much I have leftover from the previous year, so it is ready for Christmas baking. I like to let it sit for about two months before using it. I get my vanilla beans at Trader Joe’s. They usually cost $3.99 for four here. I think homemade vanilla is far better than the Madagascar kind I have purchased in the past. Thanks for the vodka vanilla recipe. I will make a batch of it now as I have some left over from a vodka penne recipe.

  25. MAriana

    In Mexico our original recipe uses Rum instead of Vodka, I think it tastes sweeter with Rum, bout I would need to try the Vodka version, thank you for the tip. And if you want to buy Vanilla beans one of the best places is Papantla in Mexico, they have a good production there.

  26. Sarah

    Oh I am SO making homemade vanilla extract. I have an entire bottle of vodka that we will *never* drink. Not that I should really be using the recipe to use up my vodka…but since I go through vanilla extract like it’s water, it will really benefit my baking as well! Thanks!

  27. Linda

    What a good idea. I went through the labor intensive job of making my own lemoncello. It tasted great but getting all of the white off of the lemon peel took forever, plus it has to sit for a longer period of time and then have sugar syrup added. I used the very strong spirits to make it, a higher percentage of alcohol than vodka. Anyway, by the time I was finished and figured out the cost and labor involved, I decided to just buy it from now on. The vanilla extract looks much easier.

  28. Sonia

    I prefer to use a dark rum, such as dark Jamaican Myers instead of vodka as the base for making my own vanilla extract. I find it gives it a ‘fuller and rounder’ flavor as the natural sweetness of the rum pairs very well with the vanilla bean.

  29. Jenna

    I can’t believe it! I have never in my life considered looking for vanilla beans online. I am so excited! I bought 5 different vanilla bean varietes from http://www.beanilla.com all for the price of what I pay for just one in a grocery store!!! Never again will I buy my vanilla beans from a grocery store… Thanks Elise!

  30. caroline

    I tried making vanilla extract a couple years ago; I used average-quality vodka and 4 vanilla beans from Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately, it never developed much of a vanilla flavor and I ended up throwing it out when I moved 8 months later. So make sure you get really good beans– vanilla beans and vodka are terrible things to waste!

  31. Dr. William Kirk

    In reading some of the comments about making your own vanilla, one item caught my attention. Since vodka often carries a taste of its own, it might taint the final product, especially if a cheaper type of alcoholic product is used. To get a close to true vanilla taste in the end, it might be advisable to use the commercially available Everclear that is an uncontaminated distilled alcohol and not a vodka. An alternative would be to have a friend that is a chemist or pharmacist obtain some of the research grade 95% alcohol, but this material is very closely regulated. Do not use the 100% that can be bought because straight distilling cannot produce 100% purity and undesirable and potentially toxic materials are often added to the mixture that will be distilled to be able to remove the last traces of water.

  32. David

    I see a lot of question about the quality of vodka to use. I make a lot of assorted extracts and such myself. One thing you can do is to run your inexpensive vodka through a (new) Brita or other handheld water filter 3 to 4 times. Remember each time you do, you also slightly reduce the alcohol content. Before you ask it is very slight and would still not effect the making or shelf life of the extract. You also do not need to use a new filter for each of the 3-4 times, just start with one.

    However before you rush out and buy a filter or think it is “required”. Most people can not taste the difference in most all vodka’s in full blind testing. If you insist for near perfection, go for it.

    Lastly I would like to state that those who use a lot of extract may want to double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe. If you order quality beans online or get them cheaply, there is hardly a deal out there even in warehouse stores that can match the quality and price combined. I know the more beans you buy at once online, the better the deal you get. Just think ahead. If you wish to do the topping off. I would consider adding a used up or fresh bean after you use approximately a half cup, then add your half cup more vodka and give a good shake.

    P.S. (sorry I ramble) Almost forgot to say to store it in a cool, dark place whenever possible. Heat and light are the enemies to this precious liquid.

  33. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    I’m sending this to my cousin who travels all over the world, and has brought me a bottle of vanilla from each of the major producing countries. I really like the Tahiti vanilla extract, but interestingly, it turns out that my very favorite of all is made right here in Massachusetts — at an old hardware store in the Berkshires. It’s fun to try a few different types and compare how the geography changes the flavor of each one. Now I’ll have to add homemade vanilla extract to my taste testing!

  34. Katie

    Thanks for the posting! I have been making vanilla extract for a few years now. I always have a few jars “brewing” in the basement (I’ve heard vanilla beans have a shelf life of 1 year, but in alcohol they last 7). My mother and brother both have Celiac (intolerant to Gluten, ie. wheat, rye, barley, etc). Since most alcohol is made from grains, making our own vanilla extract from vodka distilled from grapes was easier, more fun, and cheaper than finding GF (gluten-free) vanilla extract. ((also I cannot eat corn and many commercial varieties have corn syrup)). PS. It also makes for a great gift! Print out your own labels and pour the extract into pretty, small bottles!

  35. Sues

    My mom makes her own vanilla and it’s all I use anymore! It’s sooo much better than the store-bought stuff. And looks so pretty in a nice Grey Goose bottle :)

  36. PetiteKitche

    I love having my own vanilla extract in the cupboard. I just use a dark bottle to store it in, like a blue or brown liquor bottle. That way, the light doesn’t hit it as much. I keep the “mother” in one bottle, and some for cooking and baking in another. I just top off the “mother” when I transfer some into the bottle I use for recipes. That way, I always have it on hand.

  37. Petitekitchen

    I love having my own vanilla extract in the cupboard. I just use a dark bottle to store it in, like a blue or brown liquor bottle. That way, the light doesn’t hit it as much. I keep the “mother” in one bottle, and some for cooking and baking in another. I just top off the “mother” when I transfer some into the bottle I use for recipes. That way, I always have it on hand.

  38. Cindy

    DOES alcohol go away when you cook or bake it in something? I’ve read that it does,then I’ve read that it doesn’t. I’m confused and would like to know.

    Most alcohol does evaporate when cooking, but not all. ~Elise

  39. Karen

    Thank you for sharing. Wow! It’s so easy to make vanilla extract that it definitely looks attractive to make your own. And it certainly looks like fun too. Plus you know exactly what is going into your food.

  40. Emily

    Has anyone tried doing this with vanilla flavored vodka for double the punch? Just wondering about the results.

    I know some flavored vodkas have an artificial taste to them, but I’ve found that Stoli makes a pretty good vanilla. I might have to go out and buy a bottle just to give this idea a try… and maybe make a few drinks in the process. haha

  41. Irene

    Awesome, awesome, thank you so much! You got me at “vodka.” :D And lasts for years? Homemade vanilla extract — where have you been all my life?

  42. Matt

    Yeeesh! just made creme brulee over the weekend with my second bean. Was so excited a few months ago when I thought I got a good deal…$10 for one bean at most stores, got two for $15. Then I saw http://www.beanilla.com in another comment. Where on earth does publix get off charging their prices?

  43. Ceno

    I have to try this this week-end. I have the chance of having relatives in Madagascar so getting vanilla is not aproblem. BTW, coming from an island, I may use rhum or dark rhum. And thanks again for sharing.

  44. Madison Fan

    If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a pricey brand of vodka, use the old college trick of running inexpensive vodka through a Brita pitcher filter once or twice. Amazing, how much that filtration will improve the vodka.

  45. imran

    I love the smell and taste of vanilla, but would like to make vanilla extract without using alcohol. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  46. Mary

    Hi there,

    This really sounds great except for one thing.
    My religion prohibits me to consume alcohol even in small amounts. Any chance of a non-alcoholic version?

    Thanks

  47. Venie

    Hi there, Well, I ran to the liquor store and purchased a bottle of absolut (375 ml) and dropped 6 Tahini vanilla beans in and I am hoping they will be ready for Christmas giving. I bought a sampler package of beans on line. Next? Vanilla sugar. Thanks Elise. Anymore homemade gift giving ideas?

  48. Brenda

    How long does it take to darken up? Can I just put it in a larger bottle of vodka?

    I am trying this this week!

    It takes a couple of months to get really dark. And yes, you can put the vanilla beans in a larger bottle of vodka; just increase the number of beans so that you have the same ratio – 3 vanilla beans to 1 cup vodka. ~Elise

  49. Katie

    Elise, you’ve inspired my Christmas giving! Vanilla for everyone.
    I’d like to start brewing the vanilla soon and am about to order beans from beanilla after reading Garrett’s post. Do you have a favorite bean? Which did you use for the extract? No clue which to order and thought I’d ask you first.
    Thanks a bunch!

    Hi Katie, I honestly do not remember which beans I used! I recommend buying an assortment and experimenting. ~Elise

  50. Syrena

    I live in Hawaii and am hard-pressed to find a “cool” dry place. The ambient temperature in my house averages around 70 degrees. Is that too warm to brew vanilla extract?

    I think that’s fine. Our house stays between 70 and 75 all year round. ~Elise

  51. Laine

    I loved the idea of making pure vanilla extract, so I started a batch right away.
    I bought a few 200ml bottles of a premium vodka, tall and thin, and the beans fit great without folding them. However the bottles have cork stoppers and I noticed that after I give them a gentle shake and then place them on the counter, the stoppers start sliding up about 1/8″ like there’s something fermenting in there ;-) and I have to give them a couple minutes before the corks will stay seated all the way down again. ARE the beans supposed to ferment or otherwise release some gases during this process? This batch of extract has been brewing for a couple weeks. The beans came from a reputable internet site, and the vodka bottles were only open long enough to pop in the split vanilla beans. Is this extract going to be safe, or do I need to be concerned and dump the lot? Thanks

  52. katy

    You’re brilliant! I’m doing this tonight — what a great idea, and I bet the flavor is so much better than the store-bought kind!

  53. Mpls Lisa

    I am so excited about this! I have my Christmas gifts brewing for my two best girlfriends right now. I went to the local second hand store and picked up some old pint size mason jars and all have to do is put a pretty bow on them for Christmas! I made myself a quart size jar and cannot wait until I can start to use it.

  54. Sher

    I use 4 beans (~5″ each) to 1 cup vodka. I got a great deal on Tahitian vanilla beans on ebay, 25 for $7 which included shipping— VANILLA PRODUCTS USA. Rinse out an old glass jar from salsa, sun-dried tomatoes, banana peppers, etc. and it works great for daily shaking. Split the beans down the middle before adding to the vodka, the seeds will sink to the bottom and when it is ready, you can pour off seedless liquid. I was unsure what quality of vodka to get, ended up with Seagram’s distilled 5 times- turned out delish! I also found some 2 oz amber glass jars for less than $1 a piece—great size for gifts— online at SUNBURST BOTTLE CO. You can order exactly the quantity that you need rather than being forced into buying a case at other companies. This is a great website by the way!

  55. Sue

    I started several jars of this to give as Christmas presents when this was first posted in Oct. It looks like it is coming along well, but there are a lot of vanilla bean seeds that keep settling on the bottom. I’m sure these are flavoring the vodka, but when I go to put it into decorative bottles to give for gifts, do I want to strain it and not have any of the seeds in it? Or would it be better flavored to leave them in?

    It’s up to you, you can strain or not strain. Personally I wouldn’t strain, as the flavor will continue to strengthen with the pods/seeds in it. ~Elise

  56. Julie

    Thanks for the recipe. I’ve made this for xmas gifts this year. I made two different batches using different beans. I noticed the Madagascar beans are leaving a filmy amber oily scum at the top of the liquid. Does anyone know if this normal? Or did something go wrong? I’ve tried straining with a cheese cloth but there still seems to be some of the scum collecting at the top of the bottle. These beans seem oiler than the Tahitian beans. The Tahitian beans are producing a dark liquid without the scum/oil. Any ideas?

  57. Rose

    We were talking about this over the holidays. My sister-in-law has done this for years – I had never heard of it. She says you just keep adding more vodka if it gets low, and that it lasts and keeps working forever. So, I decided to try it and googled and found you. I bought some beans from Costco, no idea how they rate in terms of quality.

    Great post, interesting comments, beautiful pictures. Thanks.

  58. Glenda

    I just wanted to tell all of you about the site I found for l lb. of vanilla beans for $19.95–Saffron, Vanilla Imports–I have ordered the beans and plan to make vanilla extract with them, using vodka. I am very excited about making my very own extract, and plan to use some for gifts, if it turns out good!!

  59. Sunny

    Several years ago, I bought vanilla beans although was not sure WHAT to do with them. Decided to ‘goggle’ and found your wonderful information. However, when I open the sealed jar, the pods were already split, and all I could see was kind of a ‘dust’…I was expecting beans! How big are the beans suppose to be?

    That’s weird, the beans should definitely not be already split if you are opening the jar for the first time. The vanilla beans I have are about 5 to 6 inches long. ~Elise

  60. Sharon

    I was wondering if this is used in recipes the same way as the vanilla extract you get from the supermarket, like McCormack’s. Also, on the ingredients, corn syrup is listed.

  61. Stephanie

    I read on another site that when using homemade vanilla, you only need to use half the amount that’s called for in the recipe.

    Can anyone verify this?

    I just got my first batch of Madagascar vanilla beans from http://www.beanilla.com, and they were plump and moist, and now my house smells really good, too!

    I use the same amount, not half. ~Elise

  62. nusrat

    I was wondering if there was any way I could substitute the vodka? I want it to be non-alcoholic.

    Not with this method. ~Elise

  63. Mais

    Is there a way to make vanilla extract without alcohol? I do see that the post before me asked if vodka can be substituted, and that your response was not with this method. Well, is there another method? Is it possible to make vanilla extract without alcohol if you want it to be alcohol free?

    The short answer is no. The longer answer is yes (obviously because one can buy alcohol-free vanilla extract), but you have to have industrial equipment to do it, beyond the range of the home cook. As for the method? I have no idea. ~Elise

  64. English Vintner

    I am wondering if you could sort of distill the alcohol off, and throw the alcohol away and use whats left. But not sure how well that would work, and you have to have a still.

    With none-alcoholic wines they run them through a fliter so fine that alcohol doesn’t get through. The other way is to pressure it so it boils at about 70ºF and boil the % away. That way the wine doesn’t have a cooked flavor.

    So, it looks like to get alcohol free vanilla extract you should either buy it, or do some more research. I’ve done some my self and have had no results. Maybe you could tour a vanilla extract place and see how they do it.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble on. I am thinking about doing this. Well, a little more then thinking, I have a fall bazzar that I am selling it at, so I better get it started. : ) I will make 2 750 ml bottles and then bottle from their into smaller bottles. Or else just transfer the vodka to smaller bottles and do a lot, but in small bottles.

    Sorry to ramble on like this, I am sure it gets hard to read long post like these. But, someone said that the corks kept popping up 1/8″ when he/she put them on. Well, that was most likely being wet, they just wouldn’t like to go down.

    Anyway, have good 4th of July.

    English Vintner

  65. Ann

    I will be trying this out – perhaps to give as Christmas gift.
    I use fresh lavendar to infuse granulated sugar – wonderful sprinkled over biscuits.

  66. Erika

    I made a bunch of these in late September, intended as Christmas gifts, and they are not close to ready! The color looks about as dark as in the middle picture in this post. I doubt they will be ready for Christmas. Any advice? Is it possible that they might take four or more months, instead of two?

    At this point you might want to add more vanilla beans to the bottles and/or shake them more frequently. ~Elise

  67. Jodi Long

    I made my own vanilla about 15 years ago and it is still great! Made some more about five years ago. It’s interesting to see how much darker the 15 year old vanilla is than the “newer” stuff.

  68. Laurie

    I received some vanilla that my niece made at Christmas. The bean in the bottle has not been split in half. It is whole. The liquid looks brown. Should I take the bean out and slit it now and just put it back in? Thanks

    I’m sure it’s fine just the way it is, but you can split the bean in half if you want. ~Elise

  69. Psydad

    I had put this together in October of 2009 for Christmas presents – well the stuff never got dark, just looked like nasty tea… So just a few weeks ago I re-read the recipe, *DOH*!!! three beans for one cup – how simple. I just got 25 more beans from Beanilla and now have this working away (3 Liters of vanilla extract goodness!!!!) 1 1/2 L of vodka and 1 1/2 L spiced dark rum :)

  70. Nouran

    Hi, Please is there a substitute to the vodka…due to religious reasons can’t use vodka or any alcoholic beverages and I hope you can tell me if there is any substitute to it.
    Thank you

    Hello Nouran, I’m afraid with this method you must use alcohol. ~Elise

  71. Dawn

    I have 2 small bottles of vanilla extract ‘doing their thing’ in the freezer… is that NOT the proper place to keep them? It’s been several weeks and neither have barely changed color. One is rum and the other vodka.

    In the freezer? That’s interesting. No need to have them in the freezer. It’s probably slowing down the process. You can just put them on a shell in the cupboard at room temp. ~Elise

  72. Pascale

    Hi,
    When can you start using the extract? After 2 months or straight away?
    Thanks
    Pascale

    As soon as it’s dark. You can taste it too. ~Elise

  73. Alma

    Hello Elise,
    I just wanted to know if you know how to make almond extract from scratch as you do the vanilla bean extract. I had read that the almond extract can give toxic gases such as cyanuric acid (from the bitter almond). Do you know of this process and also, is it safe to make?
    Please let me know.
    Thank you!

    Almond extract is made from apricot pits in an industrial process that takes care of the cyanide problem. I haven’t found an easy way to make it safely at home. ~Elise

  74. Lindsey

    RE: Sharon (Jan 23 09)

    Most commercial vanilla has corn syrup or simple syrup added to give it a sweet aftertaste. If you use vanilla for baking, this is unnecessary. If you are using it for other applications (like adding to a smoothie or oatmeal, perhaps) and want the sweet flavor in your extract, you can add simple syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal amount of water).

    Vanilla made in this manner can be used in all the same applications as commercial vanilla, and has a much richer flavor.

  75. Chas

    Can this method be speeded up at all, say ready to use in 2 weeks? I’ve heard you can heat the alcohol till it smokes but DON’T boil. Then boil into jar w/ vanilla beans. Any suggestions?

    No idea about that. ~Elise

  76. tara

    How do you make alcohol-free vanilla extract? I have seen glycerine ones in store and they are very expensive. My family and I have Candida and we are not meant to eat any alcohol.

    No idea. This recipe requires alcohol. ~Elise

  77. Mark

    Can I use dark rum instead? I don’t have any vodka on hand. Thanks a lot.

    You can, but then your vanilla extract will taste like rum. Vodka is relatively tasteless, so the vanilla flavor shines through. ~Elise

  78. SherryE

    I’m not sure if this has been asked or not but should the vanilla be stored in amber colored jars or is clear OK?

    Clear is fine. My jars are clear, they just look amber when the vanilla eventually turns the liquid amber. But you should store them in a cupboard, away from light. ~Elise

  79. Jade Lim

    For the making of the vanilla extract, can I boil/heat the Rum/Vodka to get rid of the alcohol before I soak the vanilla pods inside?

    No. You need the alcohol to make the extract. ~Elise

  80. Jade Lim

    Hi Elise,

    Thanks for the information. I have another question though. There are like various kind of vanilla pods in the market like Madagascar, Bourbon etc.

    Which is a better option? It seem like Madagascar is the best option based on alot of review.

    Everybody’s taste is different. I would buy a few of each if possible and compare to find which ones you prefer. ~Elise

  81. wenders

    I just came to realize that Vanilla Extract is made with ethyl alchol and maltodextrin, both which is from corn, and I have a kiddo who’s allergic to corn. I want to make my own extract, have a general recipe from Ina Garten and googled and found your post, also involving Vodka. Did a search on Vodka, and some say it’s from rye, some say, wheat, some say ‘grain’, some say ethyl alcohol (which is corn) – do you happen to know what kinds of Vodka there is out there, and any that do not come from corn, or soy. My kiddo has a slew of allergies, so been baking from scratch, but didn’t dawn on me that I’d have to consider the contents of the extract, and what the alcohol is made from!

    Look for Russian or Polish “potato vodka” which is vodka distilled from potatoes. It should say so on the label. ~Elise

  82. zoroaster

    Hi Elise.I’ve just red the recipe,and can’t wait to do this.just wanted to tank u.I’m persian,so there’ll be a botelle made by your recipe far far away(i suppose u’re american or somethin’).Greate!

  83. Judi

    Does it matter how long you leave the pods in for? Is it better to leave it in for a year or so, or would that taste strange?

    The homemade vanilla I use has pods in it that have been there for several years. Alcohol is a preservative. The taste is fine. ~Elise

  84. Aimee

    While the vanilla is processing it helps to store it in a dark bottle. I buy Skyy vodka which is decent vodka for a reasonable price and it already comes in a dark blue bottle. You can also put a dark colored sock over whatever bottle you are using to keep the vanilla in a dark place during the process if you don’t have a dark colored bottle to use.

  85. Nancy

    Do you know if it is possible to make chocolate extract with cacao nibs using this method?

    No idea. Doubtful though. ~Elise

  86. JLPicard

    Wow, nice, I am inspired. For the bottle, does it matter if the stopper is cork? Should I drip some wax over the top of the cork to disable any evaporation as your photos suggest?

    Great question. I don’t know if it makes a difference or not. The bottles I had, just happened to have cork stoppers. ~Elise

  87. JLPicard

    Would it help the strength also if I would add more than the ‘three beans per cup’ formula? What would happen if I made it six beans instead of the three? Greater strength? Shorter infusion time?

    Probably both. ~Elise

  88. John A Davis

    I have a pint of Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum with 3 or 4 beans in it and it’s been there for 2 months. Doesn’t seem to be really taking off, but not sure. It’s 92 percent rum and I’m thinking all the spices and syrup in the rum keeps it from extracting the vanilla beans. Today I bought a cheap bottle of vodka and one of bourbon and I’m going to mosey over to one of the links on this website to buy some vanilla beans online.

    Wish me luck.
    I will probably try to boil down the Sailor Jerry’s to make it thicker. Don’t know. I just don’t need any alcohol taste or stuff in my life.

  89. Beverly Root

    I live in Florida and use the air conditioner in summer, open door policy in the winter. I am wondering should I refigerate this since I do not really have a cool place. Thank you for the recipe.

    Might be a good idea. But I don’t think you would need to. ~Elise

  90. Ashley

    Great idea! I just started about 6 batches in hopes that I am going to give them away as part of Christmas gifts. One of the batches is ‘cloudier’ than the others. Any ideas for that? I washed all the bottles and prepared them the same way.

    Thanks for the help.

    Hi Ashley, I don’t know what might be causing the cloudiness. Perhaps someone else reading this has a suggestion? ~Elise

  91. Jeanny House

    I started my first batch of vanilla last night. I hope it works. I bought the beans a year ago in Mexico and, like so many things, never got around to doing anything with them.

    When I went to my favorite liquor/wine store, the one where people actually KNOW stuff, I asked the guy I really trust what vodka he would use to make vanilla extract. He recommended a really clean-tasting vodka like Death’s Door (made right here in Wisconsin, thankyouverymuch!). So, we’ll see. It’s a little more expensive than some, but if the results are good, it’ll be worth it.

  92. Monaliza

    I’ve been wanting to make my own vanilla extract and your site has pushed me to do it but before I started, I need to buy the vanilla beans, so I wanted to ask you: If I were to buy 1/2 lb of vanilla beans from the web, where would I keep the unused portion of the beans? And how long would they keep for?

    I put mine in a mason jar. So far they’ve kept for several years. ~Elise

  93. Chris Hodapp

    I’ve done this a couple times and I’ve had good luck with Svedka vodka. It’s pretty neutral-flavored, but also pretty inexpensive. (I also decided to try some other extracts with Paramount vodka that I filtered through a Brita 2 or 3 times, and I wouldn’t recommend it.)

    I tried as well with Everclear diluted with water to about 40% ABV, but the results just seemed lacking compared to one made with vodka.

  94. Jaime Sallis

    Thanks for the recipe, I have a question about the wax seal on the top of the bottle, how do you do it? I could not find anything on it. Thanks!!

    The bottle I used was an emptied out and cleaned out Italian balsamic vinegar bottle. It had originally been sealed with wax. I have no idea how they did it. ~Elise

  95. amy

    HI! I am SO excited to try this. I JUST got my vanilla beans from Beanilla and they smell sooooo good! I will be off to the State Liquor Store this friday! I know there are a LOT of people who don’t “drink” alcohol are are concerned about the ALCOHOL part of making their own vanilla. Well…..what they are not aware of is ALL extracts in the grocery store that they have purchased USE and contain alcohol. Even the Artificial vanilla flavor has a type of alcohol in it called “Propylene Glycol”…It is just how it is made people. It cooks out. When you go to a restaurant, lots of them use cooking wine or white wine in pasta sauces and you are eating it. So you just need to realize that it is what you have to use if you want to use vanilla! :)

    Propylene Glycol

    A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In the skin and hair, propylene glycol works as a humescent, which causes retention of moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water. The Material Safety Data Sheet warns users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

    Propylene glycol is Commonly found in:

    makeup
    shampoo
    deodorant
    detangler
    styling mousse
    cleansing cream
    mascara
    soap
    skin cream
    bubble bath
    baby powder
    conditioner
    toner
    after shave
    baby wipes
    Also in:

    Tyre sealant
    Rubber cleaner
    De-icer
    Stain removers
    Fabric softener
    Degreaser
    Paint
    Adhesive
    Wallpaper stripper

    Soooo…..Do you want this, and other chemicals in your vanilla or make it the proper way with a little liquor and vanilla beans and a bit of water in some cases…..

    I was just diagnosed with lupus and am having a hard time with processed foods. I think we are getting more sick in general because of all the chemicals we are eating. I am so excited to make this! I just keep smelling the beans in the packages! LOL!

  96. Melissa S

    My vanilla is ready to give away as gifts. do I need to leave the vanilla beans in the jar or strain out all the small bits? I didn’t see that anywhere in the recipe. Thanks.

    I would leave the vanilla in the jars, it will only intensify the vanilla flavor over time. ~Elise

  97. Mikaela

    Could I use this vanilla for non-baking purposes, like flavoring frosting, or would the taste be off?

    I’ve used this vanilla for all sorts of purposes, including flavoring frosting. But it’s up to your own individual taste. ~Elise

  98. Rameca

    ok so i have been doing a bit of looking up how to make Vanilla Extract.. and this is what i have decided to do. i have purchased a 375ml bottle of Maker’s Mark Bourbon/Whiskey & to that i have added 5 Tahitian beans and 3 Mexican beans.. I have also purchased a 375ml bottle of Svedka Vodka to that i will add 8 Madagascar Bourbon Beans.. I am figuring that by June or July they should be ready to use… i am excited to see what the difference int he flavors will be using the different beans and the different Alcohol… i have never made my own Extract before but it seems to be more cost effective i ordered my beans Through Amazon.. Mexican beans were from Beanilla and the Tahitian was from some seller same with the Madagascar beans..the reviews were good so i figured i couldn’t go wrong..so far i am happy with the beans i have received so far just waiting on the Madagascar beans right now…

  99. Shelly

    Hi Elise! I’ve made this vanilla several times, and I bottle it and give it away as gifts. This time my task is to make some as favors for my good friend’s bridal shower. I was thinking about emptying a bit of the 1.75 liter bottle of vodka and then sticking the vanilla beans in. Problem is- the bottle is plastic. Do you think that’ll be a problem? Thanks!

    I don’t recommend plastic in general. No idea what the impact would be in this case. ~Elise

  100. Irma

    I have 2 bottles under my sink (plastic) with 2 different vanilla beans in them and have noticed that there is stuff floating in the bottles. Is that normal? Not sure if I want to poor in to containers and give it away if it is not normal.

    Don’t know. I don’t recommend using plastic bottles. ~Elise