Homemade Vanilla Extract

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I never even knew you could make your own vanilla extract until I read this post about a year ago.  Passionate Homemaking (a blog that I fell in love with while I was looking for a deodorant recipe) has actually been the inspiration behind a lot of my projects!  I thought making the vanilla sounded very interesting, but I just didn't get around to doing it last year.  I combined Passionate Homemaking's recipe with this one to come up with my very own homemade vanilla extract (I can't follow a recipe exactly, remember?). 

Why make your own vanilla extract? There are several benefits to making HOMEMADE ANYTHING! In this case, you know exactly what you are putting into the extract.  There are no fillers.  It's also a very fun project to do as a family, and they make great gifts (this is what we gave to close friends and family this past Christmas).  One last benefit (that's pretty important around here) is the cost.  I spent approximately $50 making about 24 oz. of vanilla AND buying 6 glass jars for the gifts.  The last 8 oz. bottle of Vanilla Extract I bought at my local grocery store cost $10!  

You'll need:
6  4 oz. bottles to pour your vanilla into (We all know I love GLASS-you can skip this if you are not giving these as gifts)
6-9 Vanilla Beans (I had to use more because my beans weren't the BEST quality-see note below)
24 oz. (750 ml) Vodka*
1 1/2 Tbsp Rum (optional, used as sweetner)

How to:
Cut the beans into 3-4 inch pieces then down the middle (being careful not to lose any of the seeds).  Then place all the beans into your bottle of Vodka (making sure all the beans are below the vodka level).  Put the top back on and place the bottle in a cool dark place (I just felt like I should have done this, I don't know if it's necessary).  Let it steep for at least 8 weeks.  The longer you let it steep the better.  Add the rum after 8 weeks and enjoy!  After using 1/2 of the vanilla, you can fill it back up with vodka and let it steep some more (again, this saves a TON of money). 

Since mine were gifts, I poured my homemade vanilla into 4 oz. bottles after they steeped (I added one of the beans to each jar to make it look pretty and continue to steep) and topped each one with about 3/4 tsp of the rum.  If they are for gifts and you don't have time to let them steep, you can pour the vodka and rum into containers, place a vanilla bean in each one, and attach a note with directions.  Don't forget to remind them that they can fill it back up with vodka! 

Aren't these just the cutest bottles?!

A word (or two) about vanilla beans:  
I found the cheapest vanilla beans around the Memphis area were at Whole Foods.  Penzeys Spices also has a better quality bean than what I bought at Whole Foods. You can also find them at Mountain Rose Herbs (I LOVE shopping there, but the shipping rates are a little high-you could go in together with someone else to lessen the cost) and your local grocery store.  They need to be good quality beans (not dried).  They should be soft to the touch and you should be able to squeeze them slightly. 
*Not comfortable buying alcohol? Tell the person working at the liquor store what you are using the vodka and rum for!  I shared what I was planning on making with the man I purchased mine from, and he was amazed!  

I have included affiliate links in this post.  This means that I will get a small percentage if you purchase products by clicking on these links.  However, I would not promote something that I didn't already use myself and love.  Thank you for your support of this blog and my family.
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