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Happy Extracting {Making Homemade Vanilla Extract}

Last summer, we purchased a small bottle of locally made vanilla extract from a friend of my sister’s who was selling her products at our local Famer’s Market. I popped it open as soon as I got home and the aroma was intoxicating; after the first time I cooked with it, I vowed never to use store-bought extract again.

After doing some research, I learned how simple it is to make extract at home and this past weekend that’s just what I did.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ingredients: Vanilla Beans (any variety) and Vodka (or Bourbon, Rum or Brandy)
Ratio: 5 beans to 1-cup vodka

CUT the vanilla beans lengthwise in half and put them into a glass container.
POUR in vodka, close the jar, and store in a cool, dry place.
SHAKE jar every week or so.
WAIT eight weeks or more, and then your extract will be ready to use. 

I purchased vodka from a local distillery, Smooth Ambler Spirits near Lewisburg, WV and ordered Madagascar vanilla beans from Beanilla

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.38.28 AM

Photo Source: Smooth Ambler Spirits


Madagascar Vanilla Beans, Photo Source: Beanilla

In about eight week or more, once the vanilla is done extracting you can strain the extract into another bottle or simply leave in the beans and the extract will continue to age and evolve. As you use the extract, you can continually add alcohol and, if the extract begins to thin over time, add more beans to keep your extract going for years.

For my first time making extract I decided to use the standard recipe with Madagascar vanilla beans and vodka but you can get as creative as you like, experimenting with other types of vanilla beans and spirits. Pair up your extract with some decorative glass bottles and you have the perfect homemade gift.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 9.49.38 AM

Once your extract is done, hold on to those beans. Try making vanilla sugar or homemade Kahlua with your used beans.

Anyone else making your own vanilla extract? What are your favorite varieties and flavors?


Smooth Ambler Spirits
Beanilla Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe
Beanilla Vanilla Sugar Recipe
Beanilla Homemade Kahlua Recipe

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