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Learn How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

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Save money by learning how to make homemade vanilla extract. Homemade vanilla extract is so much better than imitation and makes for a much appreciated homemade gift!

This recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract originally appeared on The Birch Cottage blog on July 22, 2016. It has been updated with clearer instructions and new photos.

I realize it’s July not December, but a little bit of preparation for Christmas just might be in order, especially after you read all about how to make homemade Vanilla Extract! See it takes a few months to make vanilla extract. If you make up a batch in July, August, September or even October, it will be ready for gift giving by Christmas!

In addition to making homemade sugar scrub last year for Christmas gifts, I also made homemade Vanilla Extract. This is the real deal. Not some imitation or artificially flavored vanilla, but genuine, rich, aromatic Homemade Vanilla Extract.

I had been wanting to make homemade vanilla extract for years. I have no idea what took me so long to finally give it a try. I’m just really glad I finally did!

Making homemade vanilla extract takes just a little bit of time, over a long period of time. You’ll see what I mean here in a minute.  Making the vanilla takes just two ingredients and a matter of minutes to prepare. Literally.

The Birch Cottage shows how to make homemade vanilla extract. Although it takes some time, this homemade vanilla extract makes for a great gift!

I did some research and found all sorts of recipes. All of them were essentially the same. Although some recipes called for slicing the vanilla beans open, while some said to cut up the beans into pieces and yet others said to only slit open the beans partially. After reading all I ever wanted to know about how to make homemade vanilla extra – and then some – I settled on this super easy recipe.

The Birch Cottage shows how to make homemade vanilla extract. Although it takes some time, this homemade vanilla extract makes for a great gift!

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To make it easy for you to identify the items needed to complete this recipe, I’ve provided links to the same or very similar products below:

Homemade Vanilla Extract

The Birch Cottage shows how to make homemade vanilla extract. Although it takes some time, this homemade vanilla extract makes for a great gift!

Disclaimer

I am not a food scientist, but I did a LOT of research on how to make homemade vanilla extract before I started making it for myself and gifting it to family and friends. It seems everyone has a different recommendation on the number of vanilla beans and the length of time it actually takes to extract the vanilla.

Having said that, I do believe I did my due diligence. The recipe that I’m sharing with you below is the exact recipe I have used MANY times and for years. The results are always a rich, aromatic vanilla extract. If you have doubts, please do the research yourself and use your best judgement.

Supplies Needed

To make homemade vanilla extract, you’ll need just a few supplies.

The vanilla bean to vodka ratio is 3 or 4 vanilla beans per 4 oz. vodka. You can either make your homemade vanilla extract in small individual bottles or a large bottle. I made my vanilla in 4 oz bottles with 3 beans each.

The Birch Cottage shows how to make homemade vanilla extract. Although it takes some time, this homemade vanilla extract makes for a great gift!

Important Tip

Before you begin making your homemade vanilla extract, you’ll want to wash your bottles with hot soapy water (or run them through the dishwasher) and make sure they are completely dry before you use them. You want your bottles to be as clean and sterile as possible so you have the best homemade vanilla extract possible. Likewise, make sure your funnel and scissors are clean.

Instructions

1. Prepare Vanilla Beans

Once you have your bottles all prepped and dried, you simply take 3 or 4 vanilla beans (I used Madagascar Vanilla Beans that I purchased on Amazon), and cut or slice them 3/4 of the length of the bean. You may want to cut your beans in half to begin with, depending on what size bottles you use. I used 4 oz bottles and I cut my beans in half and then sliced them up one side of the beans.

The Birch Cottage shows how to make homemade vanilla extract. Although it takes some time, this homemade vanilla extract makes for a great gift!

2. Fill Bottles

Place the cut vanilla beans in the bottles and pour vodka over the beans. Be sure to not fill the bottle all the way, but you do want to cover the beans. You’ll want to leave a little bit of head room so you can shake the vodka.

The Birch Cottage shows how to make homemade vanilla extract. Although it takes some time, this homemade vanilla extract makes for a great gift!
The Birch Cottage shows how to make homemade vanilla extract. Although it takes some time, this homemade vanilla extract makes for a great gift!

3. Shake the Bottles

Secure the lids on the bottles and shake each one for a few seconds.

4. Store Bottles

Once you have all your bottles filled, you will want to store them in a cool, dark place where you have easy access to them. I simply placed my bottles back in the shipping box.

5. Shake Bottles

Every two or three weeks, you’ll give the bottles a few shakes. Since I had my bottles in the carton, I simply picked up the whole carton (make sure the lid is securely closed) and shook all the bottles at once. Easy peasy.

6. Wait 8 Weeks

After about 8 weeks your bottles of vanilla and vodka will turn into amazingly aromatic Vanilla Extract. And is ready to use or gift!

Vanilla Extract Printable Labels by The Birch Cottage
Vanilla Labels

7. Add Labels

Once you’re ready to give your Homemade Vanilla Extract as gifts, you’ll want to prepare a label for your bottles. So far, I’ve created two different labels for you to choose from. You’ll find them here. However, the printable labels are exclusively for subscribers to The Birch Cottage newsletter. You can subscribe below.

Vanilla Extract Printable Labels by The Birch Cottage

These Vanilla Extract Printable Labels are a subscriber exclusive, as are most printables. Please subscribe!

Once you confirm your subscription by clicking on the link in your confirmation email, you will be redirected to the download in the Subscribers Resource Library. The Library is really a shared Google Drive folder and is full of free printable documents, cut files, patterns and more that are available exclusively to subscribers – just like you!

So, making homemade Vanilla Extract really is just that simple and it makes an elegant Christmas gift, wedding gift, bridal shower gift or anytime gift. Just be sure to make enough for yourself! And, like I said, if you get started now, they’ll be ready and just perfect for holiday gift giving.

Vanilla Extract Printable Labels by The Birch Cottage

Vanilla Extract

Yield: 1 bottle
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 1 month 25 days 14 hours
Total Time: 1 month 25 days 14 hours 5 minutes

Making homemade vanilla extract couldn’t be simpler. Plus, they make for much appreciated homemade gifts. 

Ingredients

  • 1 750 mL bottle 70 Proof Vodka 35% 
  • 36 - 48 Madagascar Vanilla Beans (3-4 beans per bottle)
  • 12 4oz bottles

Instructions

  1. If necessary, cut vanilla beans in half so that they will fit in your bottle. Then cut or slice them 3/4 of the length of the bean. 
  2. Place the cut vanilla beans in the bottles and pour vodka over the beans to cover. Leave a little bit of head room so you can shake the vodka. (You'll want to use 3 or 4 vanilla beans per 4 oz bottle or 6 to 8 per 8 oz bottle.)
  3. Secure lids on bottles and shake each one for a few seconds. 
  4. Store bottles in a cool, dark place that is easily accessible. Every two-three weeks, give the bottles a few shakes. 
  5. At the end of 8 weeks, your bottles of Vanilla Extract are ready to use or gift! 

Notes

Be sure all bottles, funnels and scissors have been cleaned and are completely dry before using. 

Vanilla extract has a long shelf line and you can make it even a year in advance, if you want.

Don't forget to add labels to your vanilla extract. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 100 Serving Size: 1 tsp
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

More DIY Ideas

If you liked this homemade vanilla extract recipe, you might also like these other homemade or handmade ideas from The Birch Cottage:

If you make this homemade vanilla extract, I’d love to hear about your results!

Til next time…

Pam Baker from The Birch Cottage

P.S. – Be sure to pin the below image to your favorite Pinterest board so you can access it later and share it with family and friends.

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Judy Cox

Wednesday 28th of September 2016

You didn't mention...after you wait the eight weeks, do you remove the bean before gifting?

Pamela Baker

Wednesday 28th of September 2016

Judy, that is totally optional. I usually leave the beans in the jar.

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