Sneak Peek – Homemade Vanilla Extract

I recently saw an advertisement for a premium vanilla extract in the Sunday newspaper. The ad pointed out that many popular brands of “pure” vanilla extract actually contain high fructose corn syrup, a highly processed food additive that I don’t let in my house or in my body.  Certain that the brand of vanilla extract I use couldn’t possibly contain HCFS, I checked the little bottle in my pantry.  Sure enough, my “pure” 100% vanilla extract really wasn’t all that pure!

Disgusted, I tossed that bottle in the trash.  However, the high-end vanilla extracts are just too expensive for my budget.  What’s a Homemade Mother to do??

Make Homemade Vanilla Extract!

I did some research on-line and the basic recipe is the same no matter what site I landed on.  So, last month I started my first batch:

2 cups vodka
6 whole vanilla beans
1 jar with a tight fitting lid (I used a pint jar leftover from summer canning – it worked perfectly!)

Slit vanilla beans lengthwise and put into the jar.  Top off with vodka, seal, and store in a cool, dark place for 2 months. Give it a good shake whenever you think about it.

If you’re worried about the alcohol, keep in mind that all extracts contain alcohol and alcohol bakes off while your baked good is heated in the oven.

Rumor has it that this will last for years.  Just keep topping off with vodka and replacing a vanilla bean every now and then.  I have another month till I can use it, but I love it already because:

1. its considerably less expensive than the store-bought stuff.
2. there aren’t any sneaky ingredients lurking inside.
3. its fun to make!
I’ll keep you posted on how it works once I make my first batch of easy peanut butter cookies, apple cake or protein pancakes.
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Written by Maureen

More posts by: Maureen

15 Comments for this entry

  1. Paige says:

    My mom does this…..I think it works great. Good Luck!

  2. Kuckie says:

    I've been doing this for quite a while…I just put the beans right in the bottle of Vodka. I sure do get some funny looks when people are over and I pull out my blue SKYY vodka "vanilla"!!! :)

  3. Courtnay says:

    i've made my own forever but i use rumn instead (golden) makes it taste better!!

  4. Munchkie'sMama says:

    We made this and put into little bottles with a homemade cookbook for our Christmas presents. Vanilla beans can be expensive, this site (http://simpleorganic.net/three-fun-food-gifts-this-season) gives you where to buy and they are a great price. For future vanilla making :)

  5. HomemadeMother says:

    Thanks for all the feedback, everyone!

    I love the idea of giving this as a gift along with a homemade cookbook. That sounds like the kind of gift I'd love to receive :)

  6. Erin says:

    I have really been wanting to try this. I'm not so much anti Corn Syrup for health reasons (won't argue with your choices though) just highly annoyed that its in EVERYTHING. WHY is it even NEEDED in my "pure" Vanilla Extract??? Just haven't gotten around to getting the Vodka yet (we do not drink in my family and I live in a "dry county" in the Bible belt so it would mean traveling to a liquor store LOL).

  7. Anonymous says:

    FYI, it is Sneak Peek (not Sneak Peak)

  8. HomemadeMother says:

    Oops! Thanks! Nice to know there is another Grammar Watchwoman out there!

  9. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

    We received a bottle of vodka and some vanilla beans as a Christmas gift from my FIL two years ago. They were wrapped separately, and my husband opened the vodka first and was very confused.

    We've replenished the beans and vodka and kept it going since then. My husband loves vanilla, and his only complaint is that this doesn't seem as "strong" as premade vanilla extracts.

  10. Allison says:

    I've just made my own (also in a pint jar); I used a half-water and half-vodka mixture, the same as I did for my lemon extract. I am excited to use it. I don't know if I'll be able to wait two months; I am far too impatient! In my opinion, it's the best use of vodka :)

  11. HomemadeMother says:

    Haha Allison I know what you mean about being impatient! I finally got to use my extract the other day to make homemade buttercream frosting – it was delicious!

    What do you use lemon extract for?? I'd love to try making that, too.

  12. comfortablydomestic.com says:

    I have a jar of vanilla in the works, myself! You can do the same to make lemon extract. Just peel 3-4 organic lemons and put them in the jar with the vodka, and let them steep for a month next to your vanilla. It is wonderful in cakes, cookies, and pound cake.

    Love your site! Good for you for being homemade in the heart of the city. ;)

  13. HomemadeMother says:

    Thanks for the tip, Comfortably Domestic. Do you put the lemon peels or the peeled lemons into the vodka?

  14. Peri says:

    I use spiced rum for mine. I could never go back to conventional vanilla – it just doesn’t taste the same. In a pinch I’ve also used gin, vodka, and scotch to top it off. It doesn’t really matter. Rum’s the best smelling though.

  15. A. Duffy says:

    I will have to try this….thank you! Vanilla ext. also helps with teething. Just rub a little on the baby’s gums and they should get a little relief.

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