Making vanilla extract




It would be completely fair to call me puritanical when it comes to vanilla. Vanilla "essence" makes me a little bit angry. It's like maple "flavoured" syrup. Why, I beg you, why?

If you're like me and you flinch at the $10 for the bottle of the real stuff of either one, we could try planting maple trees in our Australian backyards, or really, just buy maple syrup occasionally (and make sure you get your turn before Matilda Daisy does, who'll drown a pancake in it.)

And how about we make our own vanilla extract.

Turns out there's nothing to it. 

You need:

* About 6 good quality vanilla beans, I bought mine online from here.

* About a cup of vodka, or enough to fill your bottle.

Just split the beans almost to the end, put them in the bottle and fill with vodka. Shake well, every day if you can remember to, for about two months. 















The one on the left, above, is the one I just made. The other one has been brewing for about three weeks.

I made a few of these to give away at Christmas. 

Queen Vanilla Extract which is the commercial one I usually use, has invert sugar and glucose in it, which makes it a lot sweeter and stickier than the homemade.

I made one at Christmas time with glucose and honey in it (to mimic the invert sugar) and I'll have to report back on whether it's better with those additives in a month or so. 



Does it sound like an unneccessary faff? 

I tell you, I just sleep better at night knowing I made it myself. It's become a personality disorder. It started with butter and yoghurt and I'm gearing up for chocolate and properly crisp rice crackers. 

You gotta have a dream.



26 Comments on “Making vanilla extract

January 17, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I have been using homemade vanilla extract for about two years now, and will never go back. I have only ever done the vanilla/vodka combo before so will be interested to hear how the glucose and honey works.

January 17, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I did the same for Christmas gifts last year and would also be interested to hear how the glucose/honey one works. Word of caution though….I made a choc/vanilla milkshake for my children last week….I was generous with the serving (I always am when using vanilla in baking), and my daughter went loopy! It only occurred to me that it could have been the vanilla when my husband reminded me! I made some more this week without the vanilla, and she had one sip before declaring, “No, Mummy, I only like the ones with the vanilla you used last time.” I think I’ve started something! Woops!

Sarah B
January 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Looks SO good Fi! I went and bought some vanilla pods from your link (which is a lot cheaper than the supermarkets I might add!)Can’t wait to give it a go ๐Ÿ™‚

Mr Shell
January 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Sounds too good to be true. I don’t often use vanilla extract but I feel compelled to give this a go. I just can’t believe how simple this is. I live on a small island but I think I saw vanilla beans in one of our shops here recently. I’ve always wanted to buy some, but had no real clue what to do with them.
I recently discovered your blog and thoroughly enjoy reading it. Your cooking efforts astound me. I love to eat well but don’t care for cooking. Your blog has inspired me to make more of an effort. Thankyou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cheers, Michelle

January 17, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Oh I do hope you crack the rice crackers. They are one ofthe few packaged food we buy and i’d love to be able to make my own.

and no, not “unneccessary faff” at all ๐Ÿ˜‰

lily boot
January 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm

fantastic! we use a lot of this stuff and I cringe every time I pay the $10 – as for maple syrup, well I never get my hair or nails done ๐Ÿ™‚ so that’s our maple syrup money – gotta justify it somehow. I will be making VE this weekend! Thank you Fiona!

January 17, 2012 at 11:39 pm

I hadn’t heard of homemade vanilla extract before now! I use it a lot, will definitely be giving this a go!

Thank you!

January 18, 2012 at 12:02 am

Sachets of vanilla sugar are about all I can find over here in Swityerland, and vanilla beans too. Vanilla essence is rare. It’s of those annoying differences you just have to get used to when moving countries, that or find a way around it, like making your own. Fan-bloody-tastic woman! Thankyou.

International Woman of Mystery
January 18, 2012 at 12:10 am

Shoot, I forgot to split my beans. Hope it’s okay if I pull them out, split them and put them back. Thanks for the reminder. And for telling me to shake it. Don’t think I knew that bit. xo

Thrifty Household
January 18, 2012 at 12:15 am

Thank you for the post, great recipe!- I’m almost out of vanilla essence to I’ll be making some asap.
I put used vanilla pods in my sugar jar so that I get vanilla flavoured sugar…(this also workks with dried rosemary, dried lavender & dried lemon rind…)

Bee Girl (AKA Melissa)
January 18, 2012 at 1:51 am

Oh, I love this! This is definitely going on my To-Do list! Thanks for the inspiration!

Mrs Homespun
January 18, 2012 at 5:14 am

I had no idea this could be done so I am delighted with the post, thank you! I totally get the maple syrup thing, flavoured indeed. I have been reading your blog for only a few months and find it refreshing and inspiring, thanks so much.

January 18, 2012 at 7:11 am

I’d never thought to make my own vanilla essence – this looks so easy! Now, if I can sneak some vodka into the house without scaring my 14yo daughter and sending her off the deep end…

January 18, 2012 at 8:18 am

That is a fantastic idea. My kids go through a bottle of vanilla every few weeks as I don’t buy commercial milk flavourings, and they love vanilla and honey milk.

I just cough up and buy maple syrup. And thanks for the link for cheap vanilla beans!

January 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Michelle does it still smell alcoholic after 2-3 months?

January 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm

VODKA! baha!

January 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm

you are very welcome, thanks so much.

January 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm

For you – anything!! My sister found she couldn’t buy brown sugar in Germany – I think that’s right. No condensed milk, no golden syrup. But she DID have Nutella… xx

January 18, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Speaking of my sister…!! (re: above comment.) Totally ok to pull out and split – not right to end. DId I forget to tell you to shake? That was a hopeless present. xx

January 19, 2012 at 12:14 am

Condensed milk yes, but no decent golden syrup and no brown sugar or self-raising flour (no biggie really) and no vanilla essence either. And now I do have those things you’ve given me a recipe calling for chocolate digestives. Sigh.

January 19, 2012 at 7:17 am

I started making vanilla extract about 6 months ago and I’m a convert.

A friend mentioned she loved vanilla, so I made her Vanilla Vodka for Christmas (she wouldn’t use vanilla extract- she thinks baking involves opening a packet of Betty Crocker cake mix). I didn’t think it would be something I’d like, but then I found a recipe to make a cocktail by mixing it with a squeeze of lemon, a dash of pineapple juice, raspberry vodka (I guess you could use juice if you still want to be able to function afterwards) and then serve it in a (martini) glass rimmed with crushed digestive biscuits and sugar…drinkable cheesecake!

January 19, 2012 at 7:55 am

OH. My. Goodness. Thank you, Hazel.

Jacob Montereal
January 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm

This information is very helpful. Keep posting.

weekend getaway Philippines

January 20, 2012 at 8:19 am

I’d love to know if you ever try it! I’m waiting until our raspberry season (July-ish). I’ll make raspberry vodka anyway, but as any ability to have more than a couple of drinks and stay awake disappeared with having children, I may try it with pureed raspberries instead. Or not. We’ll see!

January 21, 2012 at 2:05 am

Sweetie, have you any thoughts about making teething biscuits?

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