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Making Vanilla Extract [Split from Quebec board]

Buy the others to tide you over, but the best thing you can do is make your own! It's so easy. Get a bottle of vodka, and a few vanilla beans (I get one each of the Tahitian and Bourbon beans). Take two clean, sealable containers. Carefully slice each bean and strip the tiny seeds into the pot, then add the pods. Cover with vodka and stick in a dark corner for a minimum of eight weeks. The longer it ages, the better it will be!

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  1. Wow, thanks for the tip, phedre. I'd never thought of making my own vanilla extract before. Does the vodka prevent mold from forming in the mixture?

    2 Replies
    1. re: aktivistin

      Definitely. I've had my vanilla extract going for a good two years now, and still use it!

      1. re: aktivistin

        Oh, another tip: you can experiment with the alcohol for different flavours. Try steeping beans in bourbon, whisky, or other high alcohol libations for variety!

      2. Cool, I never knew that either. For some reason I never associated alcohol with efficient infusion of vanilla beans (oh wait, I just remembered Abs***** Vodka does make a vanilla flavoured variety). I'll be sure to try to make some soon.

        I suppose I can add more than a few pods to one bottle, right?

        2 Replies
        1. re: tarteaucitron

          Sure, if you want to make extra :) I gave a gift basket of homemade vanilla goodies including extract, vanilla sugar, vanilla candles, bathbombs, lip balm, and other vanilla themed items for christmas one year, to rave reviews. It makes for a very impressive gift!

          1. re: phedre

            So all these nice, luxurious goods can be made by the vanilla bean/alcohol infusion? Thanks for the inspiration!

          1. re: violabratsche

            Any size that'll hold the beans and alcohol :) I actually dumped mine into the bottom of an old vodka bottle, but I've also used small corked bottles I picked up at the dollar store that hold about 200ml.

            1. re: violabratsche

              I've got mine going in a little tupperware container. Lovely stuff, too.

            2. Does the quality of the vodka affect the resulting product? I am not a drinker and therefore I do not have a bottle of Belvedere or Grey Goose laying round. Unless I should do otherwise, I think I'll buy the cheap stuff (i.e. Popov)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Agent Orange

                I would not use top shelf vodka for this. Ebay has a few sellers of vanilla beans that are very good. I got a pound of grade A Madacascar Bourbon beans for around $40 shipped. A fraction of the price that I would pay for the little dried up beans in the grocery store.

                1. re: Agent Orange

                  I just used leftovers from a party (Muskovia or something like that I think?) and it came out fine. I'd go cheap for sure, as you're just using it to extract the flavour from the beans and not for the vodka itself.

                2. The vanilla beans I have are dried - I don't see any seeds inside the pod. Will it work if I just split the bean and put into vodka?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: nintuv

                    yes, I think so. I have seen it recommended that dried beans can be re-plumped by a relatively short steep in alcohol(overnight?). For 2 cups of booze use about 10 beans and 1/8 cup sugar

                    1. re: nintuv

                      Whatever seeds were there still are - they're very tiny and pasty after the capsules are fermented to produce vanilla "beans", they've just dried up like clay would. Old beans are less aromatic, I think some of the aromatic compounds must be gone forever at some point, and you'll need more old ones than fresh, but it'll work. If it's that dry, you can probably just break it into a few pieces.

                    2. Anyone ever had trouble with getting "fuzzy" stuff on the beans and as a result in the extract? I did not refrigerate the beans or the extract, vodka was just regular plain vodka (not a brand new bottle but not old, either), containers weren't the technical definition of sterile but plenty clean. I used Tahitian beans, had this happen in two different attempts, one of my own and one someone gave me. One was out on a shelf and one was in the dark pantry.