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Homemade Vanilla Extract

I don’t know about you, but it PAINS me to buy vanilla extract at the grocery store. A teeny tiny little bottle for such an outrageous price. If you bake a lot (which I’m guessing you do if you’re reading this blog), consider making your own vanilla extract! It could not be more easy to do and you’ll end up saving a ton of money in the long run. It’s also really awesome to have a HUGE bottle of vanilla sitting in your pantry that will last you for months, if not years.

My dear friend and fellow food blogger Amber did a price comparison of buying vanilla vs. making your own. I encourage you to read the post [1] about it on her blog, Bluebonnets & Brownies [2]. Another bonus of making your own? You can give it to your friends and family for Christmas! Better than giving fruitcake, right?

So how do you make your own vanilla extract? Let me woo you with the simpleness of it!

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Recipe source: Bluebonnets & Brownies [3], A Beautiful Mess [3], Food Network [4]

1 bottle of booze (vodka, bourbon, or Southern Comfort all work beautifully)
8-12 vanilla beans

1. Slice each vanilla bean open length-wise. No need to cut it in half, but just slice it open so that the alcohol can reach all the vanilla bean goodness.
2. Place the beans into the bottle of alcohol.
3. Cap the bottle, make note of the date, and place the bottle in a dark cabinet or pantry for 2 months. That’s it!

Two months later, you’ll have an entire bottle of extract ready to use in your baking projects. You can let the extract sit for longer than 2 months, as that will only enrich the flavor. The extract can sit at room temperature indefinitely – it’ll never expire. Something to note with this — use CHEAP alcohol! Don’t spend a ton of money on a high-quality bottle of vodka. The alcohol will burn off during baking or cooking, so regress back to your college days and buy the cheap stuff!

Here is stage 1. I had a few vanilla beans but had to order more from Amazon.com. You can find vanilla beans at most specialty cooking stores and online retailers.

And here is stage 2, two months later. I poured the extract into smaller, more manageable bottles. I used small bottles that used to contain tonic, but I know you can buy small amber bottles at stores like specialtybottle.com [5]. Something to note about vanilla extract — if you do not have amber bottles in which to store the extract, be sure you keep your vanilla in a dark environment. Over time, light can break down the vanilla and reduce the quality of your extract. Since my bottles above are clear, I will be storing my extract in a dark cupboard.