Make Vanilla Extract

Tanzania vanilla growersOnly 2% of vanilla flavor is made from real vanilla beans. This tutorial shows you how to make quality homemade vanilla extract.

At a glance

  1. Mix 1 ounce (30 grams) of chopped vanilla beans per 1 cup (250 ml) 40% alcohol vodka.
  2. Shake occasionally, age 6 months.
  3. Strain out the vanilla pieces.

Materials

Why make vanilla extract?

Quality vanilla is a tasty and essential cooking ingredient. It’s also very expensive. By making our own extraction we get the highest possible quality product made from the absolute best vanilla beans. Considering that the FDA regulates vanilla extract by bean weight and not bean quality, you never know what you might be getting with manufactured products. Your vanilla will be free of the artificial colors and vile corn sweeteners found in even high-quality vanilla extracts. Hand crafted vanilla extract is a great gift that will last a lifetime — like a fine wine, vanilla extract matures with age. It’s also popular among people on restrictive diets, like the SCD.

Materials

Gather these supplies to make your extract:

Vanilla Beans (1 oz per cup alcohol/30 grams per 250 ml alcohol)
Get the best beans you can, but don’t get ripped off by outrageous prices — check out the reviews. Grade ‘B’ vanilla beans (also called “extract grade”) will give the most vanilla flavor per kilo of beans.

We could go with the FDA requirement and use about 0.8 oz beans per cup of extract, but this probably wouldn’t be strong enough. Industrial vanilla extractors are orders of magnitude more efficient than our hand extraction process. We need to add more beans to get anywhere near extract concentration. I recommend a minimum of 1 oz (~8 beans) per cup, but shoot for more. Remember: professional bakers use 2-fold extracts, it can’t be too strong.

The beans shown in this recipe are Amadeus Trading’s Uganda Gold ™ Vanilla beans. These beans were the obvious choice because their large size made for great pictures.

Dark Glass bottle with tight fitting cap.
Green or brown wine bottles work best. Dark glass protects the extract from direct sun exposure. Make sure you have a tight-fitting cork or lid that can be easily removed (you cannot resist smelling it during the extraction!).

Vodka (37.5-40% alcohol, 75-80 proof)
Consider a decent quality vodka, as you could have this extract for 10 years or more. A super high proof (more alcohol) vodka won’t extract as much vanilla goodness [reference]. Commercial vanilla extracts are 35% alcohol, by law. Leave some room in your calculations for the water that the beans will contribute.

Sharp knife and cutting board
To slice the beans in half and remove the seeds.

Steamer or pot of boiling water
Though optional, I always sterilize any implements that will come into contact with the bean or extract. Any yuck will sit in the bottle and contribute off-flavors for years. Why risk it? Steam or boil a clean bottle, cap, and knife for 30 minutes just prior to use.

Clean work area
Its probably not a huge concern, but you don’t want strong odors floating around when you prepare extract. Unless you intend for your vanilla to have smoked salmon undertones.

Patience
Some, but not a lot. Our vanilla can be used after 4 weeks, even though the extraction will continue for 6 months. When the extraction is finished the vanilla will continue to mature indefinitely. It’s like having a fine wine that can be sampled continuously as it ages over decades.

Step 1: Cut Beans

Step 1: Cut the vanilla beans

Step 1 – Cut the Beans

Cut your vanilla beans lengthwise.

Leave one end attached if you like (because it looks nice), but I find that it’s easier to clean the beans, get them in the bottle, and make them sit in the bottle properly when they are split completely.

Step 2: Scrape Beans

Step 2: Scrape Beans

Step 2 – Scrape the Caviar

Lay your cut bean flat, exposed side up. With your knife titled at a 45 degree angle, run the knife along the bean so that it scrapes up all the goo from the inside (also called caviar).

A dull knife, like a butter knife, ensures that you can harvest the caviar without further shredding the skin of the bean. Every so often, clean the blade with your fingers and make a caviar pile on your cutting surface.

Step 3: Chop the Skins

Step 3: Chop the Skins

Step 3 – Chop the Skins

Cut the bean skins into smaller pieces. Smaller pieces have more surface area which might yield a stronger extract. Whole and half beans tend to pile up above the vodka after shaking, smaller pieces don’t do this.

Step 4: Fill Bottle With Beans

Step 4: Fill Bottle With Beans

Step 4 – Fill Bottle with Vanilla Skins and Caviar

Stuff the cleaned bean skins and the caviar into your bottle.

Step 5: Fill with Vodka

Step 5: Fill with Vodka

Step 5 – Add Alcohol

Fill the bottle with vodka or your choice of alcohol (see Step 1).

Step 6: Shake…

Step 6: Shake...

Step 6 – Shake

Week 1 – Shake the bottle vigorously every day for at least the first week. Seed and cottony fibrous chunks will swirl in the bottle, this is normal. By the second or third day the extract should be a bit darker. Open it up and smell, yum that’s good! Contemplate wearing the extract as your signature scent.

Week 2,3, and 4 – Shake the bottle a few times a week.

Week 5 – Congratulations, you have a very raw vanilla extract! If you want vanilla seeds in your recipe give the bottle a shake before pouring. Use some. Yum! Use some more. Top up the bottle with alcohol if you expose any vanilla beans.

Month 2 – Month 6 – Sick of vanilla now? Me too. It was a fun ride though, huh? Give it a shake when you can be bothered.

Step 7: Filter

Step 7: Filter

Step 7 – Filter

After 6 months it’s time to clean up the extract.

Why clean up the extract? It’s probably a personal decision. I’d love to hear what others do. I reason that:

  • vanilla beans are fresh for about 12 months – after 6 months in my possession they are likely at least 12 months old. I don’t want stale beans to befoul my extract.
  • extraction has pretty much happened at 6 months.
  • eventually the pods have to be removed or they’ll dry out as you use the extract and the beans become exposed.
  • you can add fresh beans for an even more concentrated extraction, which is good.

Don’t worry, you can dry out the extracted vanilla beans and use them to make vanilla sugar.

You will need:

  • A clean (sterilized) bottle and cap.
  • A clean funnel.
  • A coffee filter – or – a clean strainer.

Put the funnel in the clean bottle. Put the filter or strainer in the funnel. If you want vanilla seeds in your final extract use a strainer, otherwise go for the coffee filter. Pour the extract into the funnel and filter it into the clean bottle. Cap tightly.

I didn’t have an extra bottle handy, so in the picture below I’m filtering into a clean measuring cup.

Step 8: Mature

Step 8: Mature

Step 8 – Mature

Like a fine wine, vanilla will mature and ‘improve’ indefinitely… or so they say. This is a good thing, because a liter of vanilla extract will last an average person decades. With a 1/4 pound of vanilla beans and some vodka you can make a holiday, birthday, or wedding gift that will still delight in 10, 20 or 30 years!

Also visit our answers to frequently asked vanilla questions, vanilla info page, and vanilla bean and plantation galleries.

281 comments

  1. Ian, thank you so VERY much for sharing your enthusiasm about vanilla beans and vanilla extract with all of us. Your very first DIY (do-it-yourself) site gave me the push I needed to start making my own vanilla extract. I appreciated your very specific recipe on the ratio of beans to alcohol and why you used that ratio. All of the other “recipes” I read online were too vague on the ratio of beans to alcohol.
    I started making vanilla extract for the first time in February 2008 and I’ve now made oodles of bottles for my friends and myself. I’ve made extract using your recipe from the planifolia and tahitensis beans and only vodka; the taste is clean and pure.

  2. Thank you for this excellent guide!

  3. vanilla beans

    is it really necessary to take out the beans from the vodka. i never heard of beans “going stale”.

    mb

  4. re:vanilla beans

    I’m not really certain. Whole vanilla beans go ‘stale’ after about a year of storage — the quality and potency reduces over time. The exception is vacuum packed beans, which supposedly keep for several years.

    You can probably leave the beans in the extract/alcohol forever. The beans get really dry and have given up all their flavor after a few months. There’s really no reason to keep them in the extract longer — except personal preference.

    I would worry about mold once you’ve used a good portion of your extract and the skins are exposed above the level of the liquid.

  5. bean caviar

    Why do you take the caviar out? I’ve seen recipes that say to chop up the entire bean.

    Love your site!

  6. re:bean caviar

    Thanks Kate,

    In general, I do anything I can to increase the surface area contact of the macerated bean and alcohol. If you leave the caviar in, it will eventually dislodge on its own — but why not help it along?

  7. Bean Caviar Experiment

    Scraping the caviar from the bean adds a siginificant amount of extra time and clean-up to the process. I am conducting an experiment to determine if separating the caviar from the bean results in significant improvement in vanilla extraction.

    For my experiment, I used two extraction methods – one with caviar left inside the bean and one with caviar and bean separated. All beans were cut in half when placed inside the bottle. I did this for two different vanilla bean varieties, Planifolia and Tahitensis. I have four total 750ml bottles.

    It will be six months until I know for sure, but I have some initial findings. The separated bean group’s bottles are significantly darker on the first day of the extraction. Also, the first day shows that shaking often leads to a darker color mixture (in all cases).

    Great web page – certainly inspiring!!!

  8. What a great experiment. I

    What a great experiment. I always scrape the beans because I take pictures for site.

    Did you split the beans with the caviar intact? I imagine that if you split the beans, but don’t scrape the inside, the caviar will probably separate during agitation.

    Please keep us updated with your results. The outcome will be really interesting.

  9. Food processor?

    Although not so pretty as the sliced beans (and i’m just supposing, i haven’t tried this either way). Why not do a rough chop on the beans, then put them in the food processor… add in the vodka bit by bit, and when you’ve got a pretty smashed up slurry, funnel it into the bottle. Then probably top off with more vodka (my food processor is quite tiny).

    Great site!

  10. That sounds like a great

    That sounds like a great idea. It’s probably really close to what is actually done at an extract manufacturer — they macerate the beans into tiny pieces.

    My only word of caution comes from a paper written by Garth at Heilala Vanilla: Extract manufacturers are careful not to grind the beans too small or the final extract will be cloudy.

    Thanks for the great suggestion.

  11. What about ageing in an oak cask?

  12. What a fantastic idea! It would pick up extra vanilla flavors from the oak. A variation would be casks used previously for wine or whiskey.

    Do you know a source of small casks? I’d love to try this.

  13. thebarrelsource.com has new barrels as small as 1 lt.
    The used barrels I found were too big.

  14. I like this one: 1 liter, black steel hoops, $29 (+$12 for father’s day personalization…).

  15. If you look around their site, they have 2 for specials.

  16. Homemade is best. I’ve started using Ian’s recipe of 1 oz. vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol (or 30 grams of beans per 250 ml of alcohol) as the MINIMUM amout of beans. Most of the other Internet recipes for extract use substantially less beans, which is why the extract can be disappointing (Ian calls this vanilla vodka, not extract). I cannot over-emphasize Ian’s proportions of beans to alcohol.
    My husband and I did some taste testing with equal amounts of extract and some sugar in a glass of milk to compare my homemade Madagascar vanilla planifolia extract made with vodka to my Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon extract and the Kirland (Costco brand)Madagascar vanilla extract. All of the test extracts were made from the same plant and all from Madagascar. One of the extracts was silky smooth with no harsh aftertaste. My husband assumed that smoothest extract was the Nielsen-Massey extract but he was wrong. The SILKY SMOOTH VANILLA EXTRACT WAS MY HOMEMADE EXTRACT, which contained only vanilla beans and vodka and had been marinated for 2 months. I will NEVER buy another bottle of commercial extract.

  17. Where do you get your bottle stoppers shown in step 8? They look really slick… I used corks for my first batch, so I have about 8 weeks to find something i can reuse to seal the bottles.

  18. I found the resealable stoppers at a local discount store, I think they were around 90 cents. I don’t like them too much because the rubber seems to dry out from the alcohol and eventually smells a bit funky.

    I now use beer bottles to store the extract, and cap them with an actual beer cap using a capper. Eventually, I plan to order a range of small plastic bottles for each variety of extract — but I’ve yet to find the perfect bottle.

  19. I received my 2 lbs of vanilla beans from US Vanilla Company (1 lb of Madagascar Grade A and 1 lb of Tahitian Grade B) and started making extract with some vodka I bought today.

    Since it was kind of late when we got home from buying bottles at The Container Store, I only made two 250 ml bottle’s worth, but already, I can’t wait to make more tomorrow! (My fingers smell DELICIOUS right now!) I followed your directions and split the beans, took out the caviar, cut up the beans into smaller pieces, and then put all the beans and caviar into the bottle, filling it with vodka and then sealing it up with a bottle cap or cork. I shook vigorously and put the bottles (one green, one clear) into a cool, dark place. I will fill more bottles tomorrow, and will continue to shake them up over the next few weeks.

    I am making a minimum of 15 bottles at 250 ml each for gifts at Christmas. I may make more depending on how much vanilla bean I have.

    It was really quite fun, as I have been looking forward to doing this for months. I can’t wait to do more tomorrow, and I look forward to the day when we can start using my own extract in our cooking here at home. My wife is excited at the prospect of having such high quality vanilla extract, and my daughter is looking forward to using some as perfume.

    Thanks for such a great site, a great instructable, and for all the information you’ve gathered on the subject of vanilla beans and vanilla extract!

  20. So excited!

    This is just making me grin, I’m so excited to get started. So many great tips on here! I just ordered my beans yesterday, and I’m really looking forward to getting started. I think I’m going to do a batch with vodka and a batch with bourbon, see how it goes. I bough Madagascar and Tahitian beans, and I’m just obsessing over making vanilla right now. I wanna cook with it AND make it my signature scent. ;) I love vanilla!

  21. Just remember that when you see Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract in the stores, the word “bourbon” stands for the Bourbon Islands and NOT for bourbon alcohol. I would not suggest using the Tahitian vanilla beans in bourbon as you may lose the subtle fruitiness of the Tahitian bean in such a strong tasting alcohol. You might want to read the results of the Coco&Me vanilla extract experiment posted in the “Frequent Questions” folder and also in the “In the news” folder.
    Good luck; I hope you have as much fun with your vanilla beans as I’m having with my various experiments and bottles of extract.

  22. Comments dated August 4 were copied from the old site. Comment dates didn’t transfer correctly, so everything is reset to the insert time.

    You may also like to discuss this page in the vanilla forum.

  23. Great recipe, just got my order of beans in and can’t wait to try it!!
    If anyone is looking for bottles, I came across this wholesaler:
    http://www.sks-bottle.com As I was looking for small bottles to package my vanilla for gifts and I found it cheaper and more variety than other stores/sites.

  24. Moltes gracies as they say here in Catalunya! I want to thank you for the detailed info. I have made vanilla before, but your notes will help me try and create something worthwhile during our year here in Barcelona. I have been searching everywhere for some vanilla, but since baking is not something people like to do much in this marvelous city, I must make my own. (It is understandable since there is a bread and/or pastry shop on every block.) Unfortunately the beans that I have found are a little sad looking, but vacuum packed, so I will start this today and who knows…However, I have saved this information and when we return to our little casa in western Mass next August, I can finally make vanilla correctly. Again, I thank you.

  25. re: Aging in oak casks:

    I have my a batch of vanilla put away for Christmas, 1.5 litre with vodka and 500ml with a good Italian brandy. I cook with brandy so this is an experiment.

    Whiskey distillers often refer to the ‘angels portion’ when the alcohol volume reduces through evaporation over an extended period of time. I hope to put down a small cask of vanilla made from straight alcohol in the fall. Maturation and evaporation should produce a nectar worthy of high praise. I will let you know in 5 years or so what it tastes like.

  26. Hi…I am picking up my beans from the Post Office tomorrow …I have purchased 20 PREMIUM MADAGASCAR Vanilla Beans GRADE A ~7.5″ and plan on adding them to a 26 oz bottle and topping up with vodka..via your method above…
    I am interested in making the vanilla sugar …can this still be done even though the strained beans will no longer be whole and have been stripped of the caviar ?
    (I actually plan on making vanilla stevia not sugar as I don’t eat refined sugar.)

    Thanks Michelle.

  27. Michelle,

    That should work fine. That’s how I make vanilla sugar.

    I don’t know how it will work with powdered stevia — I imagine it depends on the binders, if any, that are used to dilute the extreme sweetness (and sometimes bitterness) of concentrated stevia powder.

  28. George,

    Thanks for the info.

    I got a bit of oak cask/barrel info from barrelsource.com, but this is the first real-life experiment. Good luck, and keep us updated.

  29. Thanks I will give it a try and let you know how it turns out ( in about 6 months :-)…I only use premium stevia powder…I will try it with the spoonable version which just has high Reb A concentrate and inulin…for any one thats interested you can get it at this site which is the best I have found anywhere…
    http://www.herb-care.com

  30. Dang,
    Comment
    and Question
    — I came here to ask why you scrape the caviar off and if it can be used for anything. Then I noticed I missed the line about putting it in. It would have saved me a time and mess. I’m no chemist, but I think you would lose concentrate by all that scraping. Even what I washed off my hands would be more than any ‘surface coverage’. A few months in vodka, just cut in pieces, will probably get into every fiber and molecule.
    — I have read to add some pure maple syrup for ‘flavor’. How much and when?

  31. @Gary,

    You’re probably right about the scraping. It has been suggested before, and some users have experiments in progress. I always do it to maximize contact between the vanilla bean and the vodka — commercial extractors grind their beans into a fine pulver.

    The maple syrup is probably intended to cut the alcohol smell with a bit of sugar. Commercial extracts often use corn syrup for this purpose. I always advocate using pure vanilla extract, you can always add a bit of syrup later.

  32. Hi Ian!

    Very inspiring tutorial, I am certainly going to try this!

    For a great resealable bottle, try and get hold of Grolsch beer bottles. At least the imported ones we get here in Norway are made from dark green glass, and has a porcelain cap with rubber seal fastened with a metal wire. This means the bottle can be opened and re-sealed as often as you like, and cleaning them for reuse is easy, too. I got three crates of empties for free from a local bar, because there is no deposit on them here, and I have cleaned them and used them for home brewed beer and fruit syrup. they really are the best.

  33. How about multiple extractions? Have you ever tried using a small amount of vodka, shake and wait, decant that , more vodka/shake/wait/decant, etc. I know that it would be a long process, but the amount extracted should be significantly higher (it’s a log function), i.e, more concentrated. Just a thought. Anyway, it’s nice to know how to do this. Thanks.

  34. This is fab…I have to try making some ;)

    could you use glass stopper bottles?? I have some pretty amber ones but am afraid the seal around the stopper wouldn’t provide a strong enough seal…

  35. Cool tutorial. I’m gonna have to give this a try.

    BTW, you don’t have to worry about your beans going stale. The alcohol will act as a preservative that could keep them in good shape for years. Although I would filter them out after a time for aesthetic value and to remove some of the grit.

  36. great tutorial, ian! i just bought some vanilla beans for baking, so i’m definitely going to give this a try. enjoying your site a lot.

  37. Saffron.com has cheap beans. This is a great guide. Thank you!

  38. Thanks for the site. Props on the Cutco paring knife!

  39. Has anyone tried the Oak barrel. It sounded like a good Idea and I was going to give it a try and was just wondering if it worked.

  40. This sounds great! I brought home some beans from Mexico and was woundering if you have tried using Rum instead of Vodka? Would the Rum flavor over power the beans?? Can’t wait to try this. Have tasted vanilla from many countries but homemade things are usually the best! Thanks for the step by step guide, seen others but yours makes sense!!!!!

  41. In response to suggestions of putting your extract in oak barrels…
    Please don’t. Unless you have a neutral barrel (one that no longer smells like oak since it has been used for a few years already), it’s going to ruin your extract. The oak will completely over-power the smell of the vanilla and you’ll end up with oak flavoured vodka. If you do have a neutral barrel it sounds like a good plan. The evaporation that occurs will concentrate your extract, but if you use a new barrel to do this the extract will be far too oaky before this concentration can occur.

  42. I have some Australian vanilla beans from daintreevanilla.com here in the USA. I believe I have the only beans that George has exported to The US.

    My son, Jason, did George’s web site when he stayed with George and his family earlier this year. He slept in a room near the where the vanilla beans were stored and helped out at the vanilla plantation before and after George secured him a spot on a lobster fishing boat for a month.

    George’s beans are pure vanilla heaven. It has to do with how they are grown, I hear. They don’t have a floral tone like the Tahitian beans or a woodsy under-tone like the Mexican or the Bourbon beans. I’d like to share his beans here in the US for other folks to sample. I’m waiting for George to tell me what I should reasonably charge for them.

    I have been through the import process and I can get more beans into the US from George when my current supply is gone. Juan, at saffron.com, is a very nice man and he does have some really in-expensive vanilla beans and other products available, but George has cautioned me that many of the less expensive beans may come from questionable conditions.

    I guess that the alcohol used in making vanilla extract would kill any bacteria, but if you don’t know the specific source of your beans, you may not know what chemicals they could have been exposed to and what might leech into your extract.

    Literal and figurative food for thought.

    Let’s all try to purchase our vanilla beans more directly from the growers to encourage the sustainability of their crops and livelyhoods and ensure that we get the best and most pure product available.

  43. Best Buy for Beans

    What do you recommend as your ‘best buy’ for beans? Least expensive grade “b” that still makes a great extract for baking… Would you consider a star ating or a 1-100 point scale like Wine Spectator or something?

    I love all the reviews, but its almost too many options for me! Give me the 1 or 2 best values!

    Thanks!

  44. I have tried rum to make my vanilla, it was the way my grandpa made his. It turns out great with a rich flavor and does not overpower, I have made with bourbon, which I did not know meant bourbon islands at the time and they were overpowered by the flavor of the alcohol.
    Vodka however does not infuse any flavor to the vanilla, however I like to use the rum extract in my baking for things like banana breads, zuccini bread, pumpkin bread and pie, but use the vodka for things like cupcakes and cake that are more “cake like?”.
    Hope that helps………

  45. After 2 1/2 months I was beginning to wonder why wait for 6 months, as it was always looking the same.
    Now, though, I noticed it is starting to get a bit syrupy when I open the lid and the vanilla pieces looks like they getting globular in the bottle.
    Does the final product thicken up?
    [I made mine right in the clear vodka bottle. It was simpler, I get to 'look' at it and it is stored in a brown bag to keep the light out.]
    I was thinking of Christmas presents but now I guess I will wait until next year.
    I guess my query is what is the minimum time it turns into vanilla and does it turn into syrup?

  46. I am planning on giving my vanilla for gifts. I have some small clear plastic single serving wine bottles that are the perfect size. I washed them and wanted to use those to put the extract in to give away, but I am wondering if you can use clear plastic bottles for the “use” bottle.

  47. Gary Chandler in Canada, after about 5-6 months the extract will become syrupy, depending on the amount of vanilla beans used. The more beans that you used initially, the thicker the final extract; vanilla beans contain a bunch of natural sugars.

  48. Susan, I’ve read that clear bottles aren’t a problem for vanilla extract, but with an aromatic I like to err on the side of caution and use a dark bottle whenever possible.

  49. Deirdre, the best vanilla buy really depends on the level of quantity, quality, and flavor you’re looking for. I’m happy to provide a recommendation, just check out the vanilla sommelier page and submit a request.

  50. I noticed in the recipe that it calls for “Grade B” beans. I just ordered a half pound of “Grade B” Bourbon Planifolia beans for around $21 including shipping. According to the site there are about 100-125, 4″-5″, beans in a half pound. I just mixed up a batch tonight so I don’t know what the results will be, but if anyone is interested in the site, it is, http://www.comorosvanillabeans.com. They also sell “Grade A” and several other types of beans. Hope this helps anyone looking for inexpensive beans.

  51. Kris, thank you for the info. I will try with rum as well!

  52. First off, LOVE the site. Keep up the good work.

    Alright. I got the vodka (and some rum too), I got the beans. And now for the bottles. What to use? I found some Red Bull bottles that look kinda nice and would yield 1/2-cup batches of extract – perfect for gifts. But the cap still smells like Red Bull – what to do? I tried vinegar, I tried baking soda – but I can still smell it. I’m working with a bleach/water solution now.

    If you use a cork, does it retain the wine flavor/scent? Or do you order corks from some supplier somewhere?

    (BTW, I’m in Malaysia so I can’t get EVERYTHING you can get in the States.)

  53. My vanilla smelled really good for the first week or two, but now it’s smelling a bit more weak… Is this normal? I used 2 1/2 cups vodka and 29 grade b beans.

  54. @mommablogger – That’s not something I usually have happen, but your proportions look great. Perhaps you have a much better nose than me and you smell the extract starting to mellow.

  55. You have everything on here that a baker could possible ask for about vanilla extraction!

    E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. That’s saying alot as a cooking research fanatic.

    How can the vanilla beans that aren’t extracted be stored and for how long?

  56. Tiffany – One reader vacuum-packed his vanilla beans for long-term storage. Vacuum-packed beans should last for years.

  57. Do not vacuum seal as the moisture content of the beans after a long period of time may cause mold.

  58. Steve,

    I’m not sure that’s true. 99% of vanilla vendors ship their beans vacuum packed. According to Amadeus Vanilla, vacuum packed beans will last for years, and be good enough to extract practically forever.

  59. I’m interested in knowing how mithras’s experiment turned out. I figured he’d have the results by now. It would save a lot of time if you could get something just as good by just dumping the beans in the vodka without cutting them up. I’d like to make a gallon of it the next time I do it. I spent 4 hours the last time just doing 60oz. It turned out great, but I don’t want to spend 8 hours cutting up beans for a gallon.

  60. I have made some extract a few different ways. By just cutting the beans in halve, by sliceing and removing the caviar, and blending up the beans. I would not recommend blending the beans it produces a cloudy extract. I taste fine but its not very pretty. The othe two ways seem to work about the same. They both produce a nice extract. I have also aged some vanilla in an oak barrel. The barrel people suggested aging for 3 to 4 weeks. I tried it and I am pleased with the out come. The extract has a mild oak flavor which I thinks adds a nice touch to it.

  61. OK I want to get started making some extract to give as gifts for Xmas. What is the best grade B bean for this. I’m looking for a bean that creates that wonderful aroma and taste!

  62. I’ve been making vanilla for the past two years+based on FDA recommendations…13.35 oz per gallon of at least 35% alc…as mentioned earlier account for moister in the beans for 40% vodka is great. (I’ve tried different vodkas to test which grain I like best–corn, rice, potatoe, no difference that I can really decern. Break down measurements as needed. about 1-2 beans per oz (30cc) depending on size. I always use Grade A Tahitian variety organic(the best beans ever)–from someone whos family member works on the island of new guini, cut length wise and marinate for 5-6 months with shaking at least once a week-Logically there’s no need to scrape. I’m starting this week in time for xmas. I order my dark glass bottles 2-4 oz.ers, make my own labels with my unique name. Absolutely wonderful. People love it and come back for more. use in everything-from eggs, to all deserts and even many main dishes. poached pears in whitewine and vanilla ect.
    Good luck and enjoy Vanilla.
    Jim
    Jim

  63. I’ve just tired making extract for the first time. Within a few days, the extract had a sort of fuzzy solid in it. Anyone else had this happen? Have a done something wrong?

  64. I just started my second batch of extract and wanted to thank you for your most excellent recipe, made some a year ago and it is excellent. Everyone I have given samples to swear everything they cook tastes better and they get many compliments on their baking tasting different. When they ask for more I refer them to your website, so they may have the joys of making their own extract. I use an automotive paper paint strainer to strain the extract, works great, filters great and is quick. I thank you a million times for all the information and tips you provide on this site. How I love vanilla let me count the ways, tahitian, bourbon……..

    S.Vanorse

  65. I was looking for a Vanilla extract that was brought over from Jamaica. I could not find a brand that matched the vanilla that my aunt gave me, but there were two different kinds that had an essence of almond and Lemon and one that I forgot the flavoring that was added to the vanilla. Is it possible to add different essences to each batch?

  66. Hi Ian,

    Great tutorial! I started a batch of vanilla extract 2 days ago and now notice a white film on the top of the extract. I am using a brand new bottle of vodka (40% abv) and the beans were fresh. Any ideas what this might be? Should I be concerned?

    Thanks!

  67. Hi Ian,

    I wonder if you have ever tried to remove the alcohol, to make something approaching vanilla absolute (I need this for soap making which works better without the alcohol, and the commercial product is SO expensive!). When I boil off the alcohol from the extract, the residue has very little fragrance. I assume the fragrance is quite volative and comes out with the boiling ?

    Peter

  68. Hello Ian or (who ever can answer this),

    I was contemplating using rum for the extract since some good quality (for sure not with coumarin) vanilla extract I had purchased from Mexico used rum.
    Do you use dark rum or a clear rum for this? Does it matter?

  69. an ounce is only 28.7 grams, not 30, and I love this recipe, except I use a grain alcohol instead of cheap vodka, it costs even less than the vodka, and doesnt have an after taste…

  70. bottles, i found this site because i am making homemade soda and wanted to take it one step further and extract my own vanilla. you should try grolsch beer bottles they have a ceramic cap on a metal hinge and are preferred by homebrewers because they are completely resealable and reuseable. i am going to check out that barrel site now too. havent made the extract yet but will let you know how it goes. thanx much.

  71. Great tutorial. Since I’m also making limoncello and other things with the vodka, I bought 100 proof and then watered it down somewhat with distilled water to avoid having to buy different proofs of vodka. So far so good, since the beans I ordered are super dry and I’m not too worried about them affecting the water content.

    In case people want to gift 2oz bottles of this stuff (the “normal” sized bottle at the grocery store is 2oz), I highly recommend Sunburst Bottle Company (http://www.sunburstbottle.com).

    They have amber or blue glass bottles and you can buy as few or as many as you need. For the 2oz bottles, you could even buy just one if you wanted, and the prices are extremely fair.

  72. I have made three different Vanilla batches. One with Jamaican rum, It is very different with an exotic flavor. Made one with an inexpensive Vodka,it is almost ready for use, and one with Tequila that I have yet to try. With Christmas baking just on the horizon I am ready to try all three. I am going to cheat a little and add different extracts with each one. I used the Jamaican Rum with a bit of Lemon Zest for the Cream Cheese icing on my daughter’s birthday cake, some liked it others did not. I will be adding an almond extract to the Vodka base vanilla for some Sugar Cookies. Can’t wait for the fruit of my labour to see what happens. Has anyone else tried this with their batches, if so what was the outcome?

  73. Hi – a couple questions before I start my first batch…

    1) I heard using grain alcohol & watering it down produces a cloudier extract? Has anyone found this to be true.

    2) I have also found a grape alcohol (190 proof) – has anybody tried this instead?

    3) Plastic vs. glass – does it make a difference? (both in extracting AND in the final bottle)

  74. Oh yeah, one other thing. Does it matter what water you use to water down the grain alcohol?

  75. Yes, the water will cloud the extract. It’s best to use 60-80proof alcohol, research shows that this extracts the most and best components of vanilla beans. The bottle material doesn’t matter if it’s a good, food-grade material.

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