Produce your own Homemade Vanilla Extract with just two ingredients – it’s the easiest recipe you’ll ever make. So much better than store bought and definitely more economical.
Make a large batch and throughout the year you’ll have the perfect gift for home cooks.
For me, Homemade Vanilla Extract is worth making just to take in the wonderful aroma of vanilla – it’s heavenly. No wonder vanilla is so widely used in perfumes.
Although this recipe works in as little as six weeks, if you are patient the wait is definitely worth it. After six months the result is far better than any expensive store bought vanilla.
Once you’ve made your own, you won’t go back to buying vanilla extract.
Mass produced extracts often contain added sugar and colouring to compensate for the weaker vanilla taste and lighter appearance. When you make your own extract, you can be in control of the depth of flavour. You will notice the difference in your cooking.
When selling our homemade marshmallows at food fairs, Vanilla is always one of the most popular flavours. Customers tell us they love the “proper vanilla taste” and are generally surprised to learn I make the extract myself.
What Do I Need ?
Vanilla – you will need 5 or 6 Madagascan Bourbon vanilla pods for a traditional vanilla flavour. I use Extract Grade / Grade B pods as they have a lower moisture content than Grade A pods. This lower moisture content delivers a more concentrated flavour.
Grade A vanilla pods, with their relatively higher moisture content, are better suited to cooking and baking. If you do use Grade A pods to make extract, I suggest using 7 or 8 pods.
Extract Grade / Grade B pods are easy enough to get hold of. Most recently, I bought some online from Slofood.
Alcohol – Vanilla extract can be made with different types of alcohol but vodka works best because of its ‘neutral’ taste. I don’t go for the most expensive Vodka brands but I do actively avoid the cheaper end of the market. Whichever brand you use, it does need to be 40% strength by volume, 80% proof.
Bottles or jars – sterilise your bottle or jars using the hot cycle of a dishwasher.
How To Make Homemade Madagascan Vanilla Extract
Take a sharp knife and split the vanilla pods lengthways along their centres.
You may have to trim some pods if they’re too tall for your jar or bottle. You don’t want any pods exposed to the air or they will go slimy and ruin your extract.
Place the vanilla pods in your container and then fill it with alcohol. Make sure all the pods are submerged.
Store in a dark place and shake once a week.
Leave for at least 6 weeks – the flavour will mature and grow more intense over time. I like to leave mine for at least 6 months, although 12 months is even better.
Decant some of your vanilla extract into a small bottle so it’s easier for everyday use. You can strain the extract if you wish but I prefer to keep all the bits of vanilla.
At this point you can top up your main jar with alcohol and add 1 or 2 more split vanilla pods. As before, make sure all the pods are submerged.
Don’t forget to give your topped up extract a shake every once in a while.
Once it’s ready, use your homemade vanilla extract in the same quantities as store bought vanilla extract.
Why are Vanilla pods so expensive ?
Growing vanilla is a very long and labour intensive process. Did you know the flowers on the Vanilla orchid are typically pollinated by hand ? To make the process even harder, the flowers only last a day so must be pollinated the day they bloom.
After pollination it’s nine months before there is a fully mature green vanilla pod. And then, there’s a few more months wait as the picked pods are cured. All of this before being exported and made ready for us to buy.
Which variety of vanilla pod to buy ?
Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla contains high amounts of vanillin and therefore it has the most pronounced vanilla flavour. Traditionally used in commercially produced vanilla.
Indonesian Vanilla is known for its smokey quality, and tends to be lighter in colour.
Tahitian Vanilla has soft floral notes.
What is the difference between single-fold and double-fold vanilla extract ?
This simply refers to the ratio of vanilla pods to alcohol. The recommended amount for single-fold is 4 pods to 250 ml, double-fold is 8 pods to 250ml.
The extract you buy is usually single fold but you would find double fold in a professional kitchen. I use five or six pods to 250 ml which delivers a stronger flavour without the full expense of a double fold.
How To Store
Store your Homemade Vanilla Extract away from sunlight in a cool dry place.
How Long Does Homemade Vanilla Last ?
In theory, almost indefinitely but homemade vanilla extract is best used within three or four years.
More Homemade Gift Ideas…..
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- A funnel
- 1 sterilised jar or bottle large enough to hold the quantity you’re making
- 250 ml Vodka
- 5 to 6 pods vanilla pods per 250 ml 1 cup vodka
- Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla pods lengthways along their centres.
- Trim the pods if they are too tall for your jar / bottle. The important point is to keep the vanilla pods submerged in vodka. If they are exposed to air they will become slimy and ruin your extract.
- Place pods in your jar and cover with vodka.
- Store in a dark place and shake once a week.
- Leave for at least 6 weeks – the flavour will mature and grow more intense over time. I like to leave mine for at least 6 months.
- Decant into a small bottle for easy use. You can strain the extract if you wish but I like to see all the tiny bits of vanilla.
- If you decant off any extract, ensure the pods in your main jar remain submerged. You can top up your jar with vodka and add 1 or 2 more split vanilla pods.
- Don’t forget to give your topped up extract a shake every once in a while.
- Use your homemade vanilla extract in the same quantities as store bought vanilla extract.
- I find it best to remove the vanilla pods from the extract when I’m gifting bottles. Otherwise, your recipient will be responsible for topping up the alcohol so the pods are not exposed to the air.
- Calories are per teaspoon of Vanilla Extract.
- Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
Pin For Later
And because it’s made from scratch, I’m linking it to Made With Love Mondays hosted by Javelin Warrior