Making vanilla extract is much easier than you might think. This recipe makes pure vanilla extract, as opposed to the imitation vanilla you commonly find on grocery store shelves, filled with artificial flavors and chemicals. At a time when food costs are skyrocketing, learning to make your own vanilla extract can save you an impressive amount of money. It can also make excellent homemade Christmas gifts! You just need three simple things: vodka, vanilla beans, and time.
Different species of vanilla will produce slightly different flavor profiles of vanilla extract. Our preferred species is Madagascar Vanilla, which is rich and creamy. Other options to consider are floral, fruity Tahitian Vanilla or bold, smoky Ugandan Vanilla.
TIP: If you want to add a deeper flavor to your vanilla extract, steep your vanilla beans in bourbon instead of vodka. Rum and brandy work, as well, but vodka and bourbon are the most commonly preferred flavors.
Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract
1 fifth (25.36 oz) bottle of vodka
10-15 vanilla beans
Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise, leaving the pulp inside. Place the open beans inside the bottle of vodka, making sure all beans are fully submerged in the alcohol.
Place the bottle in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry. Shake the bottle 1-2 times every week for 8 weeks. You will notice the color slowly change to a deep brown.
After 8 weeks, your vanilla extract is ready to use, but feel free to leave the beans in the bottle to continue to steep. The flavor can only improve with additional time!