Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Making Your Own Vanilla Extract

Do you make your own vanilla? I didn't until last year. And WOW, is it ever good!

Most of the recipes I've found for making Vanilla use vodka or rum. When using a light colored alcohol, you get the satisfaction of watching the color change as it is transformed into vanilla extract. That's all fun and good but if you want truly awesome vanilla extract, use bourbon. It adds wonderful flavor to your recipes.

  1. Use six vanilla beans* per cup/8oz alcohol.
  2. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise, leaving about 1 inch connected at one end.
  3. Put the beans into the bottle of alcohol and shake gently.
  4. Cover tightly and store in a cool, dark place for about 8 weeks, giving it a gentle shake about once a week.
*Using a variety of vanilla pods (Madagascar, Indonesia, Tahitian, Mexican) will produce a vanilla extract with a much more complex flavor and aroma. Try using Madagascar pods as a base, adding Tahitian and Mexican pods for additional flavor/fragrance notes.

Vanilla extract matures with age. I waited 5 or 6 months before I started using the bottle below.

**Shake vanilla bottle before each use. Small flecks of the vanilla pods will be in the vanilla extract - they provide additional flavor. They also appear as dark flecks in light-colored food, don’t shake the bottle if you don’t want the flecks to appear.

Other blog sites on making Vanilla Extract:,1713,146191-251198,00.html


  1. Your photos are wonderful Tammy! I've been wanting to try this for so long. So, will you use your homemade vanilla extract from now on?

    PS - where did you get your vanilla pods?

  2. Yes, I've been using this vanilla since June 1st. I really like it.

    I bought my beans at Penzeys Spices (they're less than a mile from my house. How awesome is that?)

    The only pictures that are mine are the ones of the bourbon bottle. I wanted more than just a bourbon bottle on the post so I downloaded the other from
    I didn't see a copyright on them so I'm assuming it's okay.

  3. Oh Tammy, this looks wonderful! I'm definitely going to try making bourbon-based vanilla extract, thanks for the tip! -Julie

  4. Amazing! I never new it was so easy to do! I love vanilla extract, such a nice scent!

  5. Penzey's and I are friends from way back :). Seriously, when I lived in MN, I purchased all my herbs and spices there. Now I have to have a friend pick them up for me and mail them in a "flat rate" box from the post office (way cheaper than Penzey's shipping prices). The daughter of the founder of Penzey's has a spice store in Chicago. I've purchased from there too. Also great stuff!