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.
- Consider purchasing vanilla beans online. Grocery stores charge a lot of money for only a couple of vanilla beans. I purchased mine from www.vanillaproductsUSA.com, 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 Instructables.com, you need 6 whole vanilla beans to make 1 cup of single fold vanilla extract.
Last updated: July 25, 2011