How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
- 3 to 5
- 8 ounces
alcohol such as vodka, bourbon, brandy, or rum
Cutting board and knife
Clean jar or bottle
New bottle(s) for packaging (optional)
Small funnel (optional)
Coffee filter (optional)
Split the vanilla beans: Split each vanilla bean in half lengthwise. If you like, you can leave an inch connected at the end of the bean for an attractive presentation. You can also chop the beans into smaller pieces if necessary to fit in your jar or bottle.
Place the vanilla beans in a jar and cover with alcohol: Place the vanilla beans in a clean jar or bottle. Cover them with alcohol, making sure they are completely submerged. Cover the jar or bottle and give it a good shake.
Infuse for at least one month: Store the jar or bottle of vanilla beans in a cool, dark place for at least one month, shaking it from time to time. Taste the extract and let it infuse longer if you want a stronger flavor.
Strain it if you like: You may wish to remove the vanilla pods and decant the extract into a pretty bottle. The little flecks of seeds can be a nice touch, but if you want a clear extract you can strain them out using a coffee filter.
Or leave the pods in the extract: You can also leave the beans in the alcohol and top off the bottle as you use the extract. Eventually all the flavor will be extracted from the original vanilla beans, so you can periodically add fresh beans as well as leftover pods that you've scraped for other recipes.
General Rule of Thumb: Use 3 to 5 vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol and multiply accordingly if making more extract.
Uses for spent pods. You can also make good use of the spent vanilla pods by drying them and then making vanilla sugar or flavored salt.