Homemade Vanilla Extract

I have a really simple homemade gift to share with you today.

Do you remember my infusions from last year? I made a rosemary olive oil and lavender & lemon sea salt (in pretty glass bottles with custom labels). They were really popular here on the blog and with family and friends, so I decided to try something new this year and have two new easy infusions to share with you this week.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

First up? Homemade vanilla extract. (And next, Kahlua!) I was so surprised to learn how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract and that it only takes about three weeks from start to finish.

Infusions started in the next couple of weeks should be ready for the holidays, but you could really gift them at any time (they can sit on the giftee’s shelf and marinate for weeks or months, becoming even more delicious).

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

Diy vanilla extract includes two ingredients: alcohol and whole vanilla beans. The type of alcohol you choose is up to you, but the most frequently used kinds include rum, vodka, whiskey or bourbon.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

I actually made a few of each just for taste testing purposes. More on that in a couple of weeks when these puppies are done.

As far as packaging goes, there are a lot of small jars and containers out there to choose from. I’m kind of partial to a really basic bottle and a handmade label (which you can download towards the end of this post if you’d like to join in the fun, too).

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

After MUCH searching (which started last Christmas) I’ve decided that my go-to for bottles from here on out will be U-Line. They sell thick glass bottles with screw on lids (as opposed to corks), are competitive in price, ship next day as their standard and come in the perfect sizes. But you do have to order by their minimum quantities which was 24 for my vanilla bottles in a 4oz size and 12 for the Kahlua bottles in a 16oz size.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

I found Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans through a company on Amazon this year and was really thrilled with the quality and taste.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

Directions: my little helper placed one whole vanilla bean (cut in half) in each 4oz bottle. Update: one reader has suggested splitting the beans lengthwise first, I’ll be sure to try that next time!

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

And then using a small funnel, I poured the alcohol into each bottle up to the brim.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

Then they can be set aside (back into the box or into a dark pantry) for about three weeks for infusing. Though I’m sure the longer they sit the richer the flavor.

For the record, I’m not sure yet which alcohol infusion is tastiest, but I’ll let you know when I try them out in a week or so.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

You can download the labels I made here (for rum infused vanilla bean extract) for use on your own bottles, they should work well for a bottle in the 3-8oz range. It’s easiest to print them on sticker paper (shipping label sticker paper seems to be the most cost-effective) and to cut out the rectangles with a paper trimmer or scissors.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

But before I settled on those labels I came up with a bunch of different ideas, and you can download those here if you want to experiment.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

I may have gotten a little carried away…

I can’t wait to test these out in a few recipes this season!

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

More homemade gift ideas here. And here are those favorite last year infusions as well: rosemary olive oil and lavender & lemon sea salt.

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  1. Janelle says

    This looks like another fabulous item to make. Thank you for the assortment of labels…lol!

  2. says

    Sounds absolutely delicious! And the labels are beautiful, as always. I can’t wait to see which liquor you think works best.

  3. Crystal says

    Homemade vanilla tastes amazing and is so simple to make! I was stunned to learn commercial manufactures are now using artificial flavors and corn syrup in theirs. I’ve been making my own for about 20 years and I only use vodka because I found the finished product tasted more vanilla-y and less booze-y but I’m anxious to hear your taste-testing and baking results. I’ve tossed a shot of bourbon into pecan pie along with the vanilla, but perhaps a bourbon-vanilla would be simpler. I found the longer the infusion sits, truly the better it is. I slit 25 beans lengthwise, pour about 1/2 cup of vodka off one of the bigger, handled vodka bottles and slip the beans in one or two at a time and then put it in the pantry for months… like 6-12 months depending on need to put it in smaller bottles for ease of use or gifting. About once a week I gently shake the bottle to loosen some more seeds and I don’t filter the finished product because I like the little flecks showing in my finished recipes. It also makes a lovely after-dinner liqueur. And splashed over orange sherbet? An amazing adult version of a Creamsicle :)

    I’ve only made Kahlua twice as I don’t use much and the recipe I have listed an expiration date of 30 days after the infusion time was complete. I’ll look forward to your recipe and taste-testing recap!

    Your lucky gift recipients are going to be so impressed and appreciative. Can you believe Christmas is only 3 weeks away?

    • says

      Thank you for your comment and suggestions! I will try splitting the beans next time – great idea. I’ll be sure to share the taste testing results, too!


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