How to make Vanilla Extract

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You need only two ingredients to make Vanilla Extract. Good quality Vanilla Bean pods and a decent bottle of Vodka, Bourbon or Gin. It’ll take at least 6 months before you have a good optimum flavour.

2 glass bottles containing Vodka and Vanilla pods
after 10 days maturing

Because of the length of time it takes for the flavours to infuse into the alcohol. I wanted to post the recipe for it now. So that you can make a few bottles ready for the festive and New Year season.

After only 10 days you can already see the difference in colour. You can imagine, how luxuriously dark and flavoursome it will be after 6 months and longer.

This mix won’t really be ready until around January 2020. But it’ll be worth the wait. Once you’ve used the contents of the first bottle, you’ll be able to top it up with more vodka and additional Vanilla Pods. It’ll mature while you’re using the second bottle. Although between now and then, I’ll probably have more bottles maturing so that I have an uninterrupted supply.

What variety of Vanilla to use?

Vanilla pods have become a very expensive commodity. Many vanilla farmers are having to do what they can to protect their crops from thieves and poachers. There are several kinds of Vanilla Pods that you can use.

  • Madagascar Vanilla
  • Mexican Vanilla
  • Tahitian Vanilla
  • Uganda Vanilla

Make sure you buy a good quality product from a reputable supplier. I bought ndalli vanilla beans online from Bakery Bits where the Vanilla Pods are grown by artisan producers in Uganda.

How to make Homemade Vanilla Extract.

2 small glass bottles. 12 Vanilla beans

Have ready 2 x 250ml bottles with suitable secure tops.

Add 6 large vanilla pods to each one. Fitting them into the bottles is easier if you place the curved end in first. Fill each bottle with vodka. Making sure you cover the vanilla pods as much as you can. Then secure the top and give them a little shake.

Place the bottles in a cool dark place for at least 6 months. Give each bottle a shake every week or so.

Do you need to slice the Vanilla Pods?

I haven’t sliced any of the pods before adding them to the bottles. That’s because I want to squeeze out the flavoured paste from each of the beans when the extract is ready.

To extract the paste, first snip the end of a pod and then squeeze out the contents. Pop the bean back into the bottle to continue infusing the vodka. You can use the flavoured paste in your baking and cooking as normal.

While you’re waiting for the Vanilla to infuse, take a look at some of my Vanilla flavoured recipes.

Easy Vanilla Buttermilk Scones

Vanilla sheet cake with white chocolate frosting and strawberries

Vanilla Bundt Cake with a Blueberry Sauce

Valentine Vanilla Shortbread with white chocolate drizzle

How to make a Victoria Sponge Cake

Have you ever made a batch?

If you’ve ever made a batch of Vanilla Extract, please leave a comment below telling me which alcohol you used and how long did you leave it to mature. If you made a batch using something other than alcohol, I’m sure some of my readers would love to know too.

Vanilla Extract in 2 glass bottles.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

It takes just two ingredients to make Vanilla Extract and only a few minutes to prepare. Waiting for it to mature is the hardest part. But resist using it, you must. It'll be worth the wait.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: dessert baking
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Easy to make,, quick
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Maturing time (at least 6 months): 180 days
Total Time: 180 days 5 minutes
Servings: 2 250ml bottles
Calories: 648
Author: Lynn Hill

Equipment

  • 2 x 250ml glass bottles.

Ingredients

  • 12 large Vanilla Bean pods Make sure they are of good quality with no mould.
  • 500 ml Vodka Gin or Bourbon are great alternatives.

Instructions

  • Have ready 2 x 250ml bottles with a suitable secure tops. Clean and dried.
  • Add 6 large vanilla pods, unsliced, to each one. Fitting them into the bottles is easier if you place the curved end, of the vanilla pod, in first.
  • Fill each bottle with vodka, making sure you cover the vanilla pods as much as you can. Secure the top and give them a little shake.
  • Store in a cool dry place for at least 6 months. Give them a good shake every week or so.
  • The Vanilla Extract will be ready to use after about 6 months.

Notes

You'll notice that I haven't sliced any of the vanilla pods, that's because I want to squeeze out the vanilla paste from each of the beans when the extract is ready. This can be done by snipping the end of a pod and then squeezing out the contents. Pop the vanilla bean back into the bottle to continue infusing the extract.
You can use this Vanilla paste in your baking and cooking as normal.
Start using just one bottle first. When that becomes empty, leave the vanilla pods in the bottle and fill to the top with fresh vodka and a couple more fresh Vanilla pods. 
Leave to infuse again for 6 months while you use the second bottle. When you get to the end of the second bottle, repeat the process. 
I suggest you don't use one large jar or bottle. If you were to drop it you'll need to start all over again. Having a few smaller bottles on the go is better. 

Nutrition

Calories: 648kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 3mg
Did you make this recipe?Let me know how you got on. Tag me on Instagram at @clandestinecake and include hashtag #clandestinecake

2 Comments

  1. Gill Sutter


    I used Spiced Rum as the alcohol and it worked really well

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll remember that when I do another batch. I imagine using that particular Vanilla would be great for using in fruit cakes, to enhance any spice flavours already added.

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