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Jun 10, 2010 05:03 AM

~Vanilla extract~

I was thinking that I might like to make homemade vanilla extract, and was wondering, what type of alcohol would product the best results? I have appletons dark rum at home, but am not sure if that is too strong. Also has anyone tried "Uganda Gold" vanilla beans, which apparently contain more vanillan than madagascar beans? Oh, one more question, has anyone filtered vodka through a Brita filter before making their extract?

Thank you all for the tips!
exotik1 :)

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  1. I've never made vanilla extract before but I do make Limoncello and cordials etc.... Just as in cooking I would use really good ingredients. For Limoncello I use a good 100 proof vodka. Triple distilled is what I personally prefer, it gets expensive but the end product is well worth it. I have heard of people running vodka through clean Brita filters but have never tried this myself. The one guy I know who does it swears by it. Good Luck!!

    1. Definitely don't use dark rum. Use vodka. I've had good results with Rain and Luksusowa in the past. Both are reasonably affordable - less than $25 per 1.75L. There's no need to filter when making an extract.

      1. Agree on the better quality vodka, although people use light rum, brandy or bourbon as well.

        A note on your beans: Uganda Gold are nice and do have a higher vanillan content than their cousins, but pricy just for making extract; you can purchase extract grade "B" beans for less, and they're especially suited for making extract. They may not pass any beauty contests, but still have the same qualities you want for extract:

        This site also sells organic and other Udandan Gold beans, if you're still interested.

        1. Cook's Illustrated has a recipe for this. Google " Cook's Illustrated homemade extract ". Said that they used Smirnoff and that a high quality vodka is not necessary.

          5 Replies
          1. re: blackpippi

            To some of us, Smirnoff is a high quality vodka.

            Here's the CI link:

            Here's a recent thread discussing making vanilla extract:


            1. re: bushwickgirl

              Cheap vodka is fine....I make my own vanilla extract all the time. Save your better vodka for drinking!

              1. re: momskitchen

                And I do, Smirnoff is fine, but I don't recommend Georgi!

                1. re: momskitchen

                  Depends on how cheap... get the stuff in the plastic half gallon jug for under 10 bucks, and it's going to taste like rubbing alcohol no matter what you do short of running it through a Brita filter.

              2. re: blackpippi

                I used Svedka the last time I made vanilla and it came out really good.

              3. I've done it with a good light rum, to see the color change. Also agree about avoiding the dark rum because there are a lot of flavor variables in there. Would love to know if anyone has done it with both vodka and light rum and can compare. Purchased my beans from Great buying experience, one package was a little flawed, they sent me a new one that arrived in two days. Beans still look and smell amazing, moist. What they sent was better than advertised. They only had A grade available, but I've read that grade B are fine.

                My results were ok, I was expecting more. (Although my perception may be altered by the fact that I have two bags of great smelling beans stored next to the extract, and sometimes use the beans directly, which really packs a big vanilla hit.) Used a 2 to 1 ratio of Planifolia (Bourbon) and Tahitensis beans, next time I plan on doubling the ratio of beans to alcohol. In my reading I saw that professional kitchens use a double concentration extract.

                2 Replies
                1. re: MCFAC

                  I just ordered my beans from"

                  I got "extract grade" (less moisture content) beans from the same source as their "Uganda Gold" beans..i have very high hopes for these, i plan to make some vanilla sugar and vanilla bean paste as well. Im still undecided about the liquor tho...

                  1. re: exotik1

                    I think you should start out with vodka, first time around, or if you purchased enough beans for two smaller batches of extract, try light rum and vodka. Let us know how it all works out. As far as liquor brands go, I've made extract with so not great vodka and better vodka, and better IS better. Your choice doesn't have to break the bank though; perhaps speak with your liquor salesperson or consultant for a recommendation.

                    Anyway, have fun!