Homemade “Premium” Vanilla Extract

Making your own homemade vanilla extract is so easy and tastes so much better than store bought. It takes a little time steeping in the alcohol…but it is definitely worth the wait. Homemade vanilla also makes wonderful gifts during the holidays. I like to use Dark Rum when making homemade vanilla extract for superb flavor, but you can use another alcohol like Vodka, Light Rum, or even bourbon….the choice is yours.

You will need:

- 3 organic vanilla beans, per cup of alcohol used (available at Mountain Rose Herbs)
- Alcohol of choice, such as Light or Dark Rum, Vodka, Bourbon
- Closeable container, such as a decorative glass bottle or simple Mason jar (Check out these bottles)

Using a sharp kitchen knife or kitchen shears, carefully split the vanilla beans down the middle leaving one end intact. It should look like the letter “V” if you hold it up.

Place split vanilla beans in your container (jar, bottle, etc.).

Pour alcohol over top of beans to cover completely. You can make any amount of vanilla extract you wish, just be sure to use a ratio of 3 split vanilla beans per cup of alcohol.

Seal bottle/jar and store in a dark-cool place. Give the vanilla a shake often.

Vanilla will be ready to use anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks and gets even better at 8+ weeks. You will see the color get dark with age… the darker the yummier the flavor! :)

You can have an endless supply of vanilla extract by topping your bottle off with alcohol and vanilla bean(s) as you use it.

Use the homemade vanilla extract the same way you would store-bought extract (at a 1:1 ratio).

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.


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Comments

  1. Hi Shannon,

    I just made 6 bottles of this for gifts & stupid me made it with Captain Morgan’s thinking that was a dark rum!

    Ugh. Can you tell I am not a rum drinker???

    Can you tell me if all my vanilla is ruined???? :(

    Cissy

    • Cissy, I don’t think you ruined your vanilla at all. I’ve read of others that have purposely made their vanilla with Spiced Rum. Though I have not tried it myself…but others seem to say it tastes pretty good.

      So no worries :)

      Do let us know how it turns out…I am very interested, and am sure others would be as well.

      • Oh my, I never wrote back. lol

        Everyone I gave it to said it was the best vanilla they have ever had!

        I made myself some this year & put it in a bottle like the one above, with Meyers Dark Rum & 12 Vanilla Beans from Mountain Rose.

        I don’t know if it’s not enough beans but Whew!!! All we can taste is rum & it’s been about 6 months. lol When I use it, I use like a drop. But it is just way too strong.

        Going to make gifts again this year & just don’t know if I should use spiced or meyers.

        Take Care,
        Cissy

        • Homemade Vanilla is the best. What type of alcohol you use does effect the taste. I’ve used both dark and light rum before as well as vodka. The vodka will give it a more neutral taste, but I personally like the dark rum best. I’ve never tried spiced rum before, that may be good.

  2. So you leave the vanilla beans in the jar? Other recipes I have read strain out the liquid when it is ready to use. Your way sounds much easier, and I like the idea of topping off the bottle so you don’t have to wait 2 months to make another bottle when this one runs out! :)

    • Yes, just leave the beans in the jar. You could eventually remove some if you are going to add new ones to the jar. That way the jar won’t get too crowded with vanilla beans. But otherwise, just keep topping it off.

      Personally I would never want to strain the vanilla, then you would lose all those wonderful vanilla bean seeds…they are the yummiest part :)

  3. Ginny Sparks says:

    Okay Shannon, what alternatives do you have for those of us who are nondrinkers?

    BTW, love this site and I am so looking forward to the class on 11-4.

    Thanks,
    Ginny Sparks

    • According to the USFDA, pure vanilla extract contains a minimum of 35% alcohol, 65% water and 13.35 oz vanilla beans. If it is labeled as “Pure Vanilla Extract” it contains alcohol.

      There are glycerin-based vanillas out there, but they can only be labeled as “pure natural vanilla”, not pure vanilla extract.

      Personally I wouldn’t recommend the glycerin-based vanillas, or anything glycerin-based that would be consumed. As glycerin sticks to teeth and prevents remineralization…it takes 27 washes with water to remove it. You can read more about it on author Ramiel Nagel’s site Cure Tooth Decay.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the alcohol in the vanilla extracts, it is not that much. And if you bake with it most, if not all, of the alcohol gets burned off.

  4. This recipe sounds great! I’m looking for a good gluten free vanilla. I would love to be able to make this one!

    Do you know if rum is gluten free? I’m new to this and can’t find a straight answer online about which alcohols are safe to drink for people with a gluten intolerance. Thanks!

    • In general Rum is made from cane sugar or molasses. The Bacardi Rum that I use in my vanilla is from cane sugar (and is gluten-free).

      If you want to use Vodka, be sure to read the bottle carefully. As traditional Vodka is made from potatoes, but some makers are now using grains in their vodka.

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