Friday, May 27, 2011

Make your own vanilla extract

Shhhhhh...we have to keep our voices down, let's whisper.

My baby is sleeping, in a cool, dark place.

I bathed him with great tenderness, soaking him while humming quietly, a smile on my face. He smelled so sweet (don't they always?), I almost couldn't close the door and leave. All I have to do now is check on him every once in while to make sure everything is ok, perhaps give him a little shake. And wait patiently until he is ready.

It has been a week already, only about 7 more to go.

I did it, I finally made my own vanilla extract, and now that I did it, I am wondering why I waited so long. It is so basic, so quick and easy that the idea of going out to buy it seems ridiculous now.
Ok, so it isn't ready yet and I probably shouldn't boast, but when you follow this girl's  directions you can't really go wrong, can you?

So, while some people make their own because they want to use their truly exceptional vanilla beans instead of the sometimes mediocre quality of store bought extract, for me it was more a matter of convenience. That dark nectar is pretty hard to find here and the little glass bottle I brought back from the States at the beginning of the year is long gone. 

All you need is a mason jar or even a plain old jam or mustard jar, a bottle of liquor with about 40% alcohol and of course vanilla beans. This 'recipe' does not include sugar because honestly, a teaspoon of extract with or without it will not noticeably change the level of sweetness of what you are baking. The best part is that this baby is pretty low maintenance: you just top the jar off when needed with a little extra booze. Last but not least, it makes a great gift, that is if you are organized enough to start prepping a few months ahead.

Although vodka is more commonly used to make extract because it is flavorless, Clotilde suggests using rum. And who can resist the heavenly combination of vanilla and rum? I can't, so that is what I used.

2 to 3 vanilla beans
1 cup rum (or other liquor)

Clean your jar well, fill with boiling water and let sit for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, slice open your vanilla beans lengthwise to expose the seeds and then fit them into the jar (after pouring out the water). Cover completely with the rum, tightly close the lid, shake a couple of times and store in a dark, cool place to rest for about 8 weeks. Give it a shake every now and then. When it is ready, the liquid will have turned dark. Keep topping it off, possibly with the same liquor and add in a new pod (making sure you take an older one out) every now and then if you have an empty one lying around. Follow this simple procedure and you will have an endless supply of extract.


  1. That's interesting, I still have some store bought vanilla extract but I'll definitely try this soon, one less thing to lug back from the states!

  2. You had me going there for a minute there- nice bath time there...
    I've seen her recipe for this, and once we get settled and our kitchen is set up (might be a while) I'll get going on this for all my baking projects!!

  3. Congrats on starting your own batch, Fiona! It's quite the rewarding enterprise.

  4. I always say I am going to do this and have yet to try! You have been making lots of things from scratch which leaves me super impressed! I bet is smells delicious too!

  5. Moomser - if this works, I am never going back!
    Nicole - it will make your new home feel just like home. Excited? Sad?
    Clotilde - hello, so nice to meet you ;o) It is not even halfway there yet and I am already feeling good about it. Thanks so much for the tip.
    DD&W - Half of it is thanks to the husband, hehe. So far it is looking good, getting that amber tinge. Haven't smelled it yet though.

  6. I make my own vanilla all the time. After the first bathc there was no way to go back! Especially after finding a great resource for the beans on eBay!

  7. E' uno dei mie regali per gli amici, sempre graditissimo! Preparo entrambe le versioni, in grandi quantità, ma in piccole bottigliette, sia con Vodka, che rum. E' fantastico!... ops, forse dovevo scrivere in inglese, sorry
    Well, have a nice and sweet weekend :)

  8. I've got to try making this one day! I go through so much vanilla and I've found a place that sells inexpensive vanilla beans but I am too lazy to scrape them every time I need them (I know, isn't that terrible!) so I just buy the vanilla bean paste :P

  9. Wow! I had no idea it was so easy to make! I love that it is made with rum... I can't resist it! I also like the brand you used... it is not so common here... but I have found it in a well stocked shop! I will surely try this... but I don't know if I can be so patient... 8 weeks is such a long time!!!!!

  10. Great idea: vanilla and rum are a match made in heaven.

  11. Andrea - I can totally imagine there is no way going back!
    Michela - ciao e benvenuta! Devi scrivere come ti senti di scrivere, non ci sono regole qui, se non il buon cibo hehe. Anch'io ci penserò come regalo in futuro. Hope you had a nice week end too.
    Lorraine - I don't think I have ever seen vanilla bean paste, cool.
    Manu - you're telling me, right now 8 weeks feel like forever.
    ToB - yes, they are. All Clotilde's idea, I take no credit.


Leave a suggestion, opinion or your own experience. I love hearing from you.