Homemade Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is expensive. It seems like every month that I look at the prices, they just keep going up and up. But, I reckoned that it’s nothing more than vanilla beans and alcohol. So, I started doing research to see just how to go about making my own.
Come to find out: it’s just vanilla beans and alcohol.
If you do an internet search on “making homemade vanilla extract” all of the instructions that I found the typical alcohol ingredient is vodka, and people claim that it doesn’t matter if you get the cheap stuff.
From what I understand, the higher the alcohol content, the better and more pure the end product. So, on further research, I discovered that vodka, especially the cheap stuff, is about 80-90 proof, which makes it about 40%-45% alcohol. Expensive vodka is about 100 proof, which is about 50% alcohol.
Everclear, on the other hand, is 190 proof, which makes it about 95% alcohol. (The bottle had numerous warnings about it being extremely flammable.) Therefore, the end result would be almost entirely alcohol and vanilla, with less than 5% being something else.
SO, to make really good, high quality homemade vanilla, follow these instructions…
First of all, if someone from church catches you purchasing 2 liters of 190 proof pure alcohol and asks, “What are you doing here?” Turn, smile, and ask, “What are YOU doing here?”
For every 1 cup of alcohol, you need 3 whole vanilla beans. I bought mine from here. This was the most economical bulk vanilla bean we could find.
Snip the ends of the beans.
Cut them in half lengthwise.
Put them in a clean, glass container that can be sealed. I used Mason jars.
Cover them with alcohol.
Seal the jar with a tight lid.
Store in a cool, dark place for 2 months. Give it a good shake occasionally.
Let me break down the savings for you:
A 2-ounce bottle of McCormick pure vanilla extract at Kroger is $8.99.
There are 32 ounces in a quart.
So, a quart at regular supermarket prices would cost me $144.
I bought half a pound of beans at $29. That half pound will make 6 quarts of extract. So, if I break it down to quarts, I paid $5 for the beans and $13.99 for the alcohol.
That’s $19 total that I paid to make a quart of vanilla extract.
Total cost savings: $125.
I’m making 6 quarts with my half-pound of beans. I intend to buy fancy bottles and give them away next Christmas. (If you’re on my Christmas list and reading this, cover your ears and say, “La-la-la.”)
My total savings for all 6 quarts is $750.
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Ooooh, that would be a good Christmas gift. Good idea Hallee!
Oh, this cracks me up, Hallee. I was at the grocery store last night and I checked the price of vanilla and was like, “WHY is vanilla so expensive?!” and passed on it. :( Then I wake up this morning and here’s a blog on how to make it! :) I think I might try this. Thank you! :)
HAHAHAHA…..”what are you doing here”…are you practicing to become a politician! I love you and my ears are covered… :)
What a GREAT!!! recipe and I LOVE!!! the idea.
Awesome idea! I am also planning on making an apple pie drink with Everclear (for the holidays), so I’m going to look like a lush buying two bottles of it, LOL!
This makes a good vanilla.
But if you have teenagers, especially boys, let me warn you that they may dip into it – or should I say nip into it. Ours did. I kept wondering why it was going down so fast.
Also, my husband admitted that he liked a tablespoon in his milk. I enjoyed making it – it was so cozy.
Carla – that made me chuckle.
I’ll keep that in mind as my boys grow into teens. HAHA!
Kara: You conjured my post. LOL :)
Emily – I know! I wish I’d done this the first part of October – then people would have it ready to give as gifts. I need to put a reminder in my calendar to blog about it next fall.
My grand-mother had 14 children and learned way ahead of her time about “recycling” leftover food (and everything else) to stay within her low budget.
For this reason I was raised learning all kinds of hints and tips on how to save and reuse every possible food that had not been consumed and avoid at all cost to throw away anything that still has a potential usage. I will never thank my grand-mother enough for this knowledge and the many times it saved my budget. I was wondering it would alright to share with you a little and simple “recycling” recipe for your vanilla pods when the extract is used up.
Vanilla chocolate coating: 400 gr (14oz) white chocolate, broken in small pieces, seeds from 1, 2 or 3 vanilla pods (whatever is left from the empty jar).
To make the vanilla chocolate coating, place 5 cm (2 in) of hot water in a pan and heat. Pop a heatproof bowl on top of the pan, making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Place the white chocolate and the seeds scraped from the vanilla pods into the bowl and gently warm until melted, stirring to distribute the vanilla seeds. Remove from the heat.
Using 2 forks dip cup cakes or chocolate nuggets (can give you that recipe as well) until coated all over or just topped up and place on a bake sheet then sprinkle with chocolate stars or any decoration of your choice. (I also like to top up this coating with red summer fruits for cup cakes). Leave the coating to cool and set in the fridge to set. If needed use the coating a second time on top of first layer and set in the fridge again.
This coating can be prepared ahead of time and left in the freezer for a couple of months.
That sounds amazing, Sabine. Thank you so much! I’m going to make a separate post out of this when I get home!
I was just wondering, once the two month “steeping” period had passed, what is the shelf life of the vanilla?
I see the beans at this site you recommended are now $39 for half lb instead of $29. Is this still a good price?
What is the shelf life of homemade vanilla? I presume “forever” since alcohol is…. ???
My research says it has an indefinite shelf life.
It looks like they’ve changed their site all around and everything is more expensive. I did a search on Amazon (from where several people I know get their vanilla beans) to see if beans have gone up in price overall or if it was just this site. I found 1/2 pound Madagascar beans for $22. So, it looks like $39 is not a good price.
Hello Hallee…so after the time had passed, how did this work out for you? How was the taste? Too strong, just right? Should some corn syrup or sugar be added to the extract? Please let me know…based on this post, I put up a quart this past weekend and I’m looking forward to hearing your results.
I love it. I use mine everywhere I need extract. I don’t add anything else to it. I DO keep the vanilla beans in it. I know other places say to take them out, but I don’t.