Trying it now: Homemade Vanilla

My fingers smell fantastic. I just keep sniffing them. I am making homemade vanilla, for the first time. I have been dying to try this for over a year, and finally, finally I ordered vanilla beans from Amazon. For 1/4lb “Premium Bourbon-Madagascar” vanilla beans, about 27 beans, I paid around $12, and also ordered some sweet almond oil (something else I have been meaning to try for a while now instead of lotion) to get free shipping. They arrived today, so I sent my husband to the liquor store for the cheapest bottle of vodka available, a 1 liter bottle of McCormick’s for about $7. And now, I am set to make vanilla.

After looking at numerous recipes that varied from 2-4 beans per 3/4 cup of vodka, to 10 beans per 1 liter of vodka, I was a little befuddled. Basically, the more pods you use, the more quickly the vanilla will reach usable strength. My husband reminded me this is vanilla and vodka, not something complicated, so I went with a small experimental batch that should make a strong vanilla extract quickly:

1 cup (8 oz) of vodka

5 vanilla pods

I used a paring knife to split the beans almost all the way up the pod, leaving the last inch intact, curled them up and stacked them in a clean 8oz Mason jar. Then, I just filled it almost all the way up with vodka, put the lid on and shook. It looks like a big, creepy spider upside down in a specimen jar.

Vanilla pods in vodka turning into homemade vanilla extract

All of the recipes said to store the vanilla in a dark place, shake frequently (some said daily, some said every few days, some said weekly…) and the vanilla will darken and intensify over time. Some recipes said two weeks was the minimum, others said two months. Almost all agreed that the vanilla would reach peak strength around 4-6 months, with a dark amber color and strong, rich vanilla aroma. I’m hoping that two months will be enough time so that I can start using it, and so I will have time to make a big batch for Christmas gifting if it turns out well 🙂 The best part of making vanilla is that the beans are good for 6 months, so as I use the vanilla I can keep topping off the vodka, and then change out the beans when it’s time. And then my fingers will smell yummy again! I wonder if I can add this to my homemade deodorant to make it vanilla scented…


One thought on “Trying it now: Homemade Vanilla

  1. I make all of my extracts, the hardest part is finding the cheapest materials to achieve the flavors, but after many years, I’ve pretty much got it down. Will pass these on to you as I do not blog and don’t intend to, so would love to have someone else make use of them.

    For some, even most, extracts, cheap vodka for sure, but also try adding a splash of cheap brandy before aging, just gives it that extra kick and flavor. Not much, maybe 7/8 vodka to 1/8 or around there, and I also split a half a bean, lets more flavor out.. And you do know you can through those fermented beans in sugar or other dry ingredients to add flavor, they’re not done yet! You can still use them a third time to flavor butters for cooking, oils, etc. For almond extract, I roast my un skinned raw almonds until a little brown, and then roughly chop, add vodka and brandy. When mature, simply strain through a coffee filter or double cheesecloth, and don’t forget to eat those almonds. For any nut extract, always roast them first.

    Same for fruit extracts, use fresh fruit, and add a little sugar, just a touch. I make blueberry, strawberry, etc. flavored extracts to add tons of flavor to baked goods. And you can of course make fruit or nut flavored brandies or vodkas yourself too, takes 3-6 months to mature, and when done, warm up some of that yummy fruit and spoon it over homemade vanilla ice cream, for the grownups of course.

    I am like you, frugal but not cheap, and hate to see anything get thrown out. These are tried and true for me, have been doing this about 20 years. There are some very good and inexpensive sites out there to get your vanilla or whatever, Amazon is not always the cheapest, so take the time to shop and look for sales. I got a quarter pound of vanilla beans once for about $25 and free shipping (I never, ever pay shipping for anything). So anyway, hope this helps you in your venture and if you have any questions about anything, feel free to contact me at jill04951 at gmail dot com. I am not looking for anything out of this other than to see others succeed in their efforts to get away from commercial brands, which I despise. If I could grow my own wheat and have a mill for flour I would!!! 😉

    I also corn my own beef and smoke my own fish and other meats, just have to buy in bulk in whole pieces and butcher them the way you like. Also get all my meats online, we only eat humanely grown, natural meats, which we can get readily here in Maine, but the cost is extremely prohibitive. So we “order out” so to speak lol! Have made some real good connections with internet dealers and they send me freebies with my order all the time. I do like to write a nice review for them from time to time and let them know I have, nothing like a little brown nosing..

    Anyway, there are a few things for you if you are interested, and please feel free to contact me if you want. Again, I don’t want a darn thing out of anything I offer you, so don’t worry about that. I love your idea for your site and anxious to try your lime away trick, our bathroom faucets have very slow drips and the blue mineral deposit under the drip builds up now and then as we have our own spring, not a well, so truly spring water. Will let you know how it works. I am a huge fan of baking soda (buy it 10 pound bags) and borax and washing soda and making own laundry soap too, buy big boxes online and save mucho bucks.

    Good luck with your site/blog and wish you luck in your endeavors. If you keep track of what you save over a year, you will have one happy hubby too! Take care Jill

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