Making your own Vanilla Extract – why it’s a great idea~ 2

There’s more than one reason to make something yourself, and yes, this includes making it despite it being manufactured and available most anywhere. Whatever it is.

Making your own vanilla extract is a perfect example, especially if you make/bake a lot of sweets. From cake and cookies, to pudding and all deliciously sweet things in between, just a bit of pure vanilla extract, especially one of high quality, adds depth and flavour. 


With only two ingredients, vanilla beans and some type of alcohol – usually vodka, but some use bourbon, or straight alcohol if you can get it – get quality ones. If you live gluten free, you can indeed make it so – just do your research to find an appropriate alcohol. 

I needed it to be gluten free and picked up some Smirnoff’s vodka. A bottle of my fave Polish vodka which is grain based, has taken up permanent residence in my freezer, waiting for guests sans gluten issues to arrive. 


Here’s what you do, using the ratio of 500 ml alcohol to 2 vanilla beans:

  1. With a thin pointed knife, carefully split open the vanilla beans, then scrape out the seeds.
  2. Add the seeds to a clear glass container, preferably with a tight-fitting seal & lid.
  3. Add the alcohol, and cover.
  4. Put in a dark place to mature, for about 8 weeks. (Possibly longer…)
  5. You’ll be able to tell it’s ready by the colour, and the wonderful aroma. Straining is a matter of preference; some do and some don’t.


Be patient. Take a look, at least weekly, and give it a swirl. Give it a sniff as well. 


Mine’s been maturing about 4 weeks, and I can sense the change(s) more with a sniff, than by looking. By that marker, it’s coming along fantastically… losing the harsh alcohol smell, and becoming milder. Sweeter. I was intending to use it for Christmas gifts, but it just might not be fully matured by then. Lucky me~

2 thoughts on “Making your own Vanilla Extract – why it’s a great idea~

  • Petal

    I have been making my own extract for years now with good ol’ Smirnoff, though want to do a bourbon one too! I scrape and use the whole pods too, then when I am out of the extract I put the pods in sugar to scent it, waste nothing. Waiting is the hardest part 🙂 happy baking! xo

    • joanne Post author

      Hi Petal, Thanks for your comment and for sharing your tip on using the ‘leftover’ pod to make vanilla sugar. I know someone that does this, and puts it in her coffee. Just imagine using it to ramp up a vanilla bean ice cream or to make a simple syrup!

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