Making Your Own Vanilla

Day 246 of 365

I did not know until recently that there are different types of vanilla. Last year, unable to locate some Madagascar vanilla extract (this is the vanilla usually in the stores), I tried some Mexican vanilla extract. I like it a lot. There’s a richness to the flavor, but I found that I missed the Madagascar vanilla when I was looking for a lighter flavor in something I had baked. Additionally, Mexica vanilla is darker and richer in color, which can be great, but is tough when you are working with white frosting or glazes.

I decided I would make some vanilla extract myself. I had always heard it was fairly easy but just took a long time. In the summer, I bought vanilla beans and beautiful bottles for making vanilla. My plan was to allow about six months and then give some beautiful bottles of vanilla away as gifts for the holidays.

Today, somehow, in the middle of January, I am just now making that vanilla, but I figure it will be perfect for holiday gifts next year. I have labels too. I just have to find them. But the bottles are so beautiful I am going to have to think hard about putting labels on them. Aren’t they lovely?

In additional to being far more beautiful than the bottles of vanilla I have always bought at the grocery store, making vanilla is practical, it turns out. The vodka was pretty inexpensive, and the vanilla beans that I ordered from an online company, were on sale. The bottles were a splurge, but you can use a mason jar. And it turns out that your homemade vanilla can kind of have an infinite life–at least this is what I read. You can use some and just add some vodka as you go. Then, periodically, add a new bean to your bottle. This seems like a wonderful plan to me.

To make your own vanilla, you just need 3 to 5 vanilla beans, depending upon the size of your bottle or bottles. I used 5 in each of my bottles because these bottles are pretty big. I wanted to make LOTS of vanilla. You simply split the beans and remove the seeds by scraping them out (save the seeds for baking something else). I read in one place to rinse the beans, so I did; however, I read other recipes and instructions that said this was not necessary. Put the scraped beans in your jar or bottle, fill with vodka, close it all up. Store it in a relatively cool, relatively dark place and shake every few days.

I have read it can take as little as 2 months for your vanilla to be ready, but I am in a Facebook group for vanilla (I know, there’s a Facebook group that does nothing but talk about vanilla), and some people there said to aim for 6 months and longer to ensure best quality.

I’m going to see how it goes with mine. Right now, I am just admiring the beauty of it and feeling thankful I finally had the time to make this. I am planning to make a few more, but I need to get more vodka.

11 thoughts on “Making Your Own Vanilla

  1. I started down the vanilla rabbit hole last winter and haven’t looked back! Had a couple false starts but after joining the fb group IndriVanilla I am feeling much more confident in the product extracting in the cupboard. IndriVanilla has some great recipes; my current favorite being vanilla paste. Baking is my favorite cooking area and I use a LOT of vanilla! The paste is interchangeable with extract and is ready much sooner.


    1. Oh, I am going to have to join that group! I am in another vanilla group and just recently learned about the vanilla paste too. I want to make some for sure. It appears I have also started down the vanilla rabbit hole! 🙂


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