I don’t know about you, but I go through vanilla extract like water. A couple of years ago, I stopped messing around with the small bottles from the grocery store and started buying the 32-ounce bottle from King Arthur Flour. SO much easier than going to the store at least once a week for an insanely overpriced small bottle! I’ve finally taken it the DIY route and made my own, which is ridiculously easy. All you need are some good vanilla beans, your favorite bottle of vodka, and a little bit of patience.
Actually making the extract could not be easier. All you need to do is slice up some vanilla beans, combine them with vodka, place in a jar, and… wait. The mixture needs to sit for at least six weeks to be infused, but is even better if you stand to wait a little longer, say a few months. The smell of fresh vanilla extract is positively intoxicating!
When you’re ready to use the extract (or want to give it as a gift), simply strain it through coffee filters or cheesecloth and fill clean bottles (I bought 4-ounce clear Boston round bottles from SpecialtyBottles.com). You could even drop a couple of vanilla bean pieces into a bottle to keep the infusion going, if you’d like.
Homemade vanilla extract is such a perfect gift, not only for the holidays, but also has a hostess gift. There are tons of free printable labels online, as well, to spruce up your bottle.
With Christmas a little less than two months away, now is the perfect time to get started on some homemade vanilla extract!
Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Using the tip of the paring knife or a spoon, scrape out the seeds and transfer to a small saucepan. Cut the empty bean pods into 1-inch pieces and add them to the saucepan.
Add the vodka, cover and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture is hot and steaming, about 2 minutes. (Do not open the lid while the pot is over the flame or the alcohol will ignite.)
Pour the mixture into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and let cool to room temperature. Cover with the lid and store in a dark place for at least 6 weeks (the longer, the better!), shaking the jar gently once a week.
Line a fine-mesh strainer with 2 coffee filters or 2 layers of cheesecloth, and place over a liquid measuring cup. Strain the vanilla through the filters, then transfer from the measuring cup to a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. The vanilla extract will keep indefinitely at room temperature.