Homemade Vanilla Extract

Money is tight this year, so I’ve decided to hand make all of our Christmas gifts (and if any of my friends or family members are reading this – please pretend to be surprised when you receive your gift…).  A great idea that I came across recently was homemade vanilla extract.  A lot of people in my family love to cook and bake, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-Vanilla beans.  I used Tahitian vanilla beans from Beanilla Trading Company.  You can order them here or from Amazon.  It ended up being about $14.99 for 25 beans, plus shipping.

-12 glass bottles, about 4 oz each.  You can also order them them from Beanilla, but I chose to order them from Specialty Bottle, for about $0.67 each.

You’ll also need a cutting board, a knife, a funnel, and some vodka.  I chose to use Svedka vodka, because I’ve heard that it has a smooth, mellow taste which would blend nicely with the taste of the vanilla beans.

Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies, it’s probably a good idea to wash out the bottles to remove any dust or particles that may have worked their way inside during processing or shipping.  Let dry completely.  Here you’ll see I’ve used my bottle drying rack which conveniently works for more than just baby bottles.

Once the bottles are dry, line them up on your work surface.

Cut each vanilla bean in half.

Then, put four halves into each bottle.

When all of the bottles have beans in them, it’s time to add the vodka.

Measure vodka into a measuring cup.  You’ll need about 3/4 cup per bottle of vanilla.

Pour vodka into the bottles.

When all of the bottles are full, put the covers on and let them sit for at least a month to let the vanilla mature.  I did them a couple of days ago so that the vanilla would have plenty of time to “extract” before Christmas.

The vanilla will start out rather clear but will get darker from day to day.  Here it is already a day later:

One of these days, I will make them pretty with ribbons and labels, and I will update this post to show you the finished result.

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