DIY: Make your own Vanilla extract

DSC_0799Vanilla.. this smell defines sheer heaven for me. There is something so soothing about the way it wafts into your being. Vanilla has helped many a boring desserts become something of an urban legend, lent its perfumed fragrance to many a custard, ice creams and puddings and made them that much easier to devour.

Everything that I’ve mentioned above only and only implies to vanilla EXTRACT!! not ESSENCE!! for vanilla essence is vile, disgusting, synthetic and can only bring out feelings of deep loathing and hatred.

This aversion to essence doesn’t come from any food snobbery on my part, but the bad flavour on the part of essence. I have watched many cakes falling prey to its stench. The synthetic flavour of the essence just does not help any dessert.

Vanilla extract is a bit pricey if good, but it’s all worth it. It’s not always easily available, and I say it with good authority for none of the stores in and around my town or even within a few hundred kilometer radius keep anything even remotely resembling a vanilla extract.

My only options are to order it online or make it at home. Of course I stack my pantry with the best extracts I can get my hands on.. you never know when the proverbial apocalypse might strike, and all you’d want to do in those last hours is eat butter and make desserts smelling of vanilla.

But a couple of days back, overcome with a sense of DIY, I decided to make it at home. I know I won’t be able to reap the fruits of this process until a few months from the time I make it, but what the heck? It can sit serenely in a cool dark corner, and one day I will be making desserts with my vanilla extract!! So there!!

The  process is extremely simple.. It’d the waiting that’s a bit hard. YOu need only 2 ingredients.

DSC_0782Vanilla beans, vodka, a clean jar/bottle. try to get the best quality vanilla since the quality of the extract will depend on the vanilla beans you’ve used.

DSC_0783I halved these beans to fit into the bottle. If your bottle is long enough you don’t really need this step.

DSC_0785Split these beans down the middle so as to expose the caviar (vanilla seeds).

DSC_0787LIke so. Take a minute and inhale deep. your kitchen, your hands, your knife, your kitchen shears all smell of divine vanilla.

DSC_0790Put all these split beans into the bottle.

DSC_0792They should fit in without difficulty.

DSC_0793In with the vodka. This can be any generic inexpensive vodka. It’s the beans that matter.

DSC_0796Admire your handiwork. Slap on a sticker mentioning the day and date you made it and store in a cool dark place.

DSC_0799This picture was taken mere hours after steeping. Make sure the vodka is poured in generously. Don’t be stingy with the alcohol and make sure you drink the rest.

I’d be updating almost every week with the changes in the extract.


Vanilla beans (4-5) or depending on how big your jar/bottle is

Vodka (nothing expensive)

a glass bottle/jar

How To: Split the vanilla in the middle to expose the vanilla seeds. Put these into your glass bottle and top it vodka. Make sure the bottle cap is on tight. Store in a cool dry place, away from any direct sunlight. A pantry or as in my case some space in the bookshelf works best.

This extract will take anything from 3-4 months before you can use it, and the best part is that you can keep replenishing it as you use it. Just keep adding vodka.


4 thoughts on “DIY: Make your own Vanilla extract

  1. Wow!!! I need to try this!! I’ve also read that many people use Madagascar vanilla bean paste, which can be found at Costco or purchased online. Have you ever tried this?

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