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recipe for homemade vanilla extract
I would venture to say that the majority of people who know me know about my love-affair wtih vanilla. Whether it is in food, or body care products, or candles, I just can’t help myself. It is delicious and beautiful all at the same time! I used to wear vanilla perfume every day and apparently it was seen as “my” scent. Other people would wear it and people who knew me would tell them they smelled like me. My sister’s friend even found a bottle of vanilla perfume while they were in the drugstore and told me sister, “it’s Tessa in a bottle!” So it would make sense that, after seeing all the wonderful vanilla recipes floating around on Pinterest, that I felt compelled to try one.

So today my biggest boy and I made some vanilla extract.

homemade vanilla extract helper

Helping Hands

The ingredients were very simple:

  • Vanilla beans (I purchased mind from Real Raw Food in BC, Alberta). I have had the beans for a few months and have been waiting for jsut the right recipe to use them in. They are very precious to me so I didn’t want to waste any.
  • Vodka (recipes called for 35%-40% alcohol, I got 40%). I had the pleasure of supporting a local business for this purchase. Chateau Wine and Spirits in Lacombe, Alberta, is a fabulous place to deal with. They offer everything from cheap to specialty beers and wines and vodka and every other kind of alcoholic beverage that tickels your fancy. As I never (read: only once in my entire life other than this time) purchase alcohol, the customer service was great to a newbie like myself. I bought almost the cheapest kind of vodka. (The only reason I didn’t get the cheapest is because I decided to spend the extra couple of bucks to get a glass bottle. Plus it is Alberta-made so I can support local two-fold.) They also do regular wine tasting evenings, bulk orders for weddings or other catered events and can order in special requests! I should also mention that Chateau Wine and Spirits is owned and operated by my sister-in-law and her husband.

So here are my directions:

1. Use about 6-8 beans per cup of vodka.  Some recipes called for whole beans, some for split beans, and some for chopped. The most in depth recipe I read called for splitting the beans, scraping out the seeds and then chopping the pods. I figured I’d go halfway and split the bean and then chopp into about half to 3/4 inch lengths. Tip I found while reading comments of the aforementioned recipe: use scissors. It only took me a few minutes to cut my little bundle of beans.

2. Put them in the vodka. (Kids can be a great help if you have a lot of pieces and a very small bottle opening to put them into) Be careful not to overflow your bottle. I poured a bit out of the bottle and put into a glass jar so I have two containers of extract in my cupboard. If you bought a plastic bottle of vodka then use a glass jar or bottle to make it in because you don’t want plastic yuckies leaching into your vanilla over the next months.

3. Shake it up and let it sit. Shake it up every day or so for a week. Then just give it a shake whenever you remember it. Another tip: label your jar/bottle. I used a black Sharpie to write the date on it so it is easy to see how old it is.

Homemade vanilla extract vodka and vanilla beans

Homemade vanilla extract with seeds floating around

You can use it as early as 2-3 weeks but it is best if you let it sit for about 6 (or more) months. I know that I can’t wait that long though so I’m going to try it in a few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to use up the vanilla that my sister brought back from her Mexico vacation. And then I’ll use my Costco stuff up. And then, finally, I’ll be able to dive into my homemade vanilla extract! Coffee creamer, cake, muffins… I can smell them already! Actually, I can still smell the vanilla on my hands. Have I mentioned how much I love vanilla?