Making homemade vanilla extract is a rewarding and straightforward process that allows you to customize the intensity and flavor notes to suit your preferences. With a few simple steps and a little patience, you can create a rich and aromatic extract that will elevate your baked goods, desserts, and beverages to a whole new level. Let's get started!
High-quality vanilla beans (Madagascar, Tahitian, Mexican) 1 ounce of vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol
High-proof alcohol (vodka, rum or bourbon)
Glass bottles with tight fitting lids
Step 1: Choose Your Vanilla Beans
The foundation of any good vanilla extract lies in selecting quality vanilla beans. Look for plump, moist, and aromatic beans to ensure a robust flavor profile. Madagascar, Tahitian, and Mexican vanilla beans are popular choices, each offering distinct flavors that can be used alone or in combination.
Step 2: Choose Your Glass Bottle
Next, choose a clean and airtight glass bottle to house your vanilla extract. Clear or amber glass bottles work best as they allow you to monitor the infusion process. Ensure the bottle has a tight lid to prevent any alcohol evaporation. I found my amber bottles in bulk on Amazon.
Step 3: Choose Your Alcohol
For vanilla extract, high-proof alcohol is essential to extract the vanilla's flavor effectively. Vodka is the most commonly used alcohol due to its neutral taste, but you can experiment with other spirits like bourbon (my favorite for its caramel and toasty notes) or rum for unique flavor variations.
Step 4: Measure Vanilla Beans and Alcohol
Once you have your beans, bottle and alcohol ready, it's time to combine them. Measure out 1 ounce (or more if you prefer) of vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol. I like to slice my vanilla beans down the middle to expose the inside of the bean before I add it to the bottle. The more vanilla beans you use, the stronger the flavor will be. Place your vanilla beans in the bottle and fill with alcohol. Seal tightly.
Step 5: Store in a Cool/Dark Place
Place your sealed vanilla extract bottles in a cool/dark place like a kitchen cupboard or pantry. Allow the mixture to steep 6 months to a year for best results.