Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 23, 2010 10:36 PM

Help! Homemade Vanilla Extract way too weak!

hi guys, so back in august I bought a 1/4lb of tahitian vanilla beans and decided to make homemade vanilla extract for myself and to gift for the holidays. I put about 12 split pods into a 26oz (.750L) bottle of absolut vodka (minus a few ounces to fit the beans) and shook once every few days for about 4 months it's definitely not giftable this year because it's way too weak! I've cross referenced several different recipes for homemade vanilla and can't figure out why mine still isn't ready!
Has anyone done this before themselves? What kind of results did you yield?
To be clearer, my extract looks almost the same shade as the middle bottle in this picture.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. That is indeed strange. When I make mine I add 3-4 split beans into 250 ml of alcohol and it is so fabulous. Do you recall what grain your beans were? There is a difference between A and B but Tahitian beans should be great! I believe Grade B to be better as there is less water content. Some recipes call for about 1 tsp of sugar to be added to 500 ml of alcohol at the beginning but I have never personally done this. You can continue to add beans until it is flavourful enough but your beans to alcohol ratio is already generous! Oh, if your vodka is over 35% proof it can be overpowering for the beans as well.

    1. Did you use extract grade beans (grade B, lower moisture content than grade A)? You certainly had a good ratio of beans to vodka. Your vodka was 80 proof? From the photo that's close to the shade of your extract, it certainly doesn't look strong enough. I suspect it's your beans. Add more, steep longer, and see how it works out.

      1. I split the beans before adding them to the vodka. I've never had a problem with strength but I don't know if it's because of the split. Some people object to the little vanilla caviars floating around in their extract but I shake the bottle before using it so I can get some of them into the mix along with the liquid.

        1 Reply
        1. re: morwen

          I love the seeds, give it a sense of authenticity. Don't think adding sugar makes a difference. I agree, add more split beans and time.