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Homemade Vanilla Extract

By brooklynsupper |

homemade vanilla extractThere are three good reasons to make your own vanilla extract at home. First, it’s frugal. I know you’re probably not going through hundreds of dollars worth of vanilla extract and it’s probably not a major expense in your household. But still, that stuff’s like $5.49 for a tiny bottle! Anyway, being frugal is like the new coolest thing.

Second, it looks cool to have a pantry stocked with all kinds of odds and ends you made yourself. If someone’s there and you bust out some pickles you made and then start whipping up a cake with vanilla extract that’s from an unlabeled jar, that person is totally going to be like “Hmmm. Impressive.”

Third, it tastes good, really good. Homemade vanilla extract has more perfume-y, sweet vanilla flavor, and you have the flexibility to use high-quality beans. Vanilla extract is a key ingredient in so many recipes, and this version packs a wallop of rich vanilla flavor and fragrance.

Also, it’s very easy.

Wondering what to do with your vanilla? Try ginger butterscotch blondies, airy chocolate cake, or decadent chocolate sorbet.

Homemade Vanilla Extract (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vodka, rum, or brandy
1 vanilla bean, split in half

Heat the vodka just until it starts to steam. Pour it into a 1 cup jar. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the out the seeds. Immerse the seeds and bean in the jar. Allow to cool to room temperature. Seal.

Shake daily for 10 days, until the extract is a rich brown tone and has just a bit of vanilla oil on the surface. Strain if you like. Store the tightly sealed jar in a dark cabinet and use normally.

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About brooklynsupper



Elizabeth Stark and Brian Campbell write the blog Brooklyn Supper, dedicated to seasonal ingredients and wholesome home cooking. Read bio and latest posts → Read Elizabeth's latest posts →

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3 thoughts on “Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. [...] filling 2 packages cream cheese 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup sugar 1 egg zest of 1 lemon 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract pinch [...]

  2. Mark says:

    I made this last year for Christmas gifts. One year later, my vanilla is light colored vodka. I’m a bit horrified at the thought of how many bottles of this I handed out last year. I think the secret is to make sure you have enough vanilla beans in the jar. I put two beans, sliced, fresh, in a small bottle with about 1/2 cup Vodka and it wasn’t enough. Trust me. Check your recipe.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    @Mark–thanks for the comment. Since this was my first time making the recipe, you prompted a little taste test. In a head-to-head comparison with an average quality vanilla extract, I found that ours had a distinct, pure vanilla flavor. The store bought was slightly darker, but the flavor was inferior. Not sure what might have gone wrong with your batch, did you scrape the vanilla beans into the mixture? I hope you’ll give it another chance!

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