I bake a lot, and it seems like every recipe for baked goods includes vanilla extract. I wince every time I buy vanilla extract because it’s so expensive. At my Stop and Shop, it costs $9.99 for 4 ounces of their store brand extract, or $2.50 per ounce.
I’ve wanted to make homemade vanilla extract for a while now, and I finally got around to ordering vanilla beans. Some extract recipes call for using lots of vanilla beans, but I thought I would try using just one and see how it came out. After making my first batch with one bean, I decided to go with 2 beans in future batches. I felt funny going into a liquor store and buying vodka, but I did it.
I’m so happy that I finally got around to doing this, because making homemade vanilla extract is simple and cost effective. It makes a great gift, too.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- 2 vanilla beans
- 8 ounces cheap vodka
Slice the beans open lengthwise and scrape out half the paste. Use the paste for another recipe. I made vanilla ice cream, and it tasted incredible!
Place the spent vanilla beans (with half the paste still in the beans) in a clean jar and cover with the vodka.
Put the jar in a cabinet and forget about it for a month.
After a month, open the jar and see if it smells like vanilla or vodka. If it still smells like vodka, put it away for a few more weeks and try again. When you get that nice vanilla extract aroma, you can start using it. (Mine started smelling like vanilla after 3 weeks.)
Top off periodically with more vodka. This should last for many months. When it stops smelling like vanilla, replace the beans or add another one.
Homemade Vanilla Extract Price Breakdown
I bought the cheapest vodka I could find: one liter for $7.99. With this vodka, the price of my homemade vanilla extract is $3.92 for 8 ounces, or $.49 per ounce. The store brand vanilla extract at Stop and Shop is $2.50 per ounce, which is five times more expensive than the homemade version. The amazing thing is that you use the half-spent vanilla bean for this extract, so you can use some of the paste for another recipe.
Note: If you want to buy vanilla beans in bulk, Amazon has lots of options. Also, Beanilla has wonderful vanilla beans for just $1 each if you buy 25, shipping included. I bought the flip-top bottles at the Container Store for my homemade vanilla extract.
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