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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Photo 1: 12 Madagascar vanilla beans split lengthwise steeping in a jar of vodka.

Photo 2: The vanilla bean on the top was split lengthwise with a knife.  
The vanilla bean on the bottom is a whole vanilla bean.

I started making homemade vanilla extract about a month ago.  It is a lot easier than I imagined.  All you have to do is place several vanilla beans (split lengthwise).  See Photo 2.  Then steep the vanilla beans in vodka for a minimum of three weeks.  See Photo 1.  The longer the vanilla beans steep in the vodka, the better the flavor.  I can still detect a slight smell of alcohol so I am going to allow it to sit longer.  [Update: 3 months later I can no longer detect the smell of alcohol.  Now it smells absolutely heavenly!  I have a smile on my face every time I open this jar.  It fills the room with the smell of vanilla.]  For instructions and more information about making vanilla extract, click here.

Quick Tips: 
  • Consider purchasing vanilla beans online.  Grocery stores charge a lot of money for only a couple of vanilla beans.  I purchased mine from, but you can also try places like Amazon or eBay.   
  • If you want to make a "classic" vanilla extract, use Madagascar Vanilla Beans.  Otherwise try experimenting with other kinds of vanilla beans and liquor.  
  • Make sure you use enough vanilla beans or you will just end up with vanilla flavored alcohol.  According to, you need 6 whole vanilla beans to make 1 cup of single fold vanilla extract. 

Last updated: July 25, 2011

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