Made This Recipe? Add Your Photo
A basic recipe for homemade vanilla extract, with a variation using sweetener, to make it taste more like store bought vanilla. Corn syrup or sugar helps extract and develop the flavor from the vanilla pods (corn syrup dissolves more easily). Using a variety of vanilla pods (Madagascar, Indonesia, Tahitian, Mexican) will produce a vanilla extract with a much more complex flavor and aroma. Try using Madagascar pods as a base, adding Tahitian and Mexican pods for additional flavor/fragrance notes. Vodka is used most often(you can also use rum or brandy) because it usually has the hightest alcohol content. You can double or triple this recipe.
- Using a sharp kitchen knife, cut a lengthwise slit down the middle of each vanilla bean.
- Cut vanilla beans into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces.
- Pour vodka into your container. If using corn syrup, add and shake to dissolve syrup. Sugar can be used, but is harder to dissolve.
- Add vanilla beans to container and shake.
- Keep vanilla extract in a cool, dark place, with the bottle tightly closed, to prevent evaporation and loss of flavor.
- Once each day, vigorously shake the container for 30-seconds.
- It will take at least 30 days for the vanilla extract to mature. The longer it sits, the stronger it gets. I know people who make this in July and don't use until December, when baking time begins and to use for gifts.
- Shake vanilla bottle before each use.
- As the contents of the bottle are poured out, top it up occasionally with additional vodka and a bit more corn syrup; about once a year add a couple more finely chopped vanilla pods.
- Occasionally spoon out some of the mass of vanilla pods that settle to the bottom of the jar for when you want a very intense vanilla flavor (such as homemade vanilla ice cream or butter/vanilla pretzel cookies).
- Another thing you could do is to remove some the vanilla beans from the alcohol, dry them thoroughly and place them in a canister of sugar to make vanilla sugar.
- You may want to use one-fourth to one-third the amount called for in most recipes as this has a very strong vanilla flavor.
- Small flecks of the vanilla pods will be in the vanilla extract - they provide additional flavor. They also appear as dark flecks in light-colored food, don’t shake the bottle if you don’t want the flecks to appear.
- Vanilla extract will stay fresh for two years unopened and for one year after being opened.
- Small bottles with the vanilla beans left in them make great gifts for friends who bake. Include the basic instructions and a few extra vanilla pods in case they want to make an even stronger extract or wish to make some vanilla sugar on the side.
- To strain and bottle for storage: Use a very fine strainer, coffee filter, or paper towel to strain.