Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Making Vanilla Extract: Ridiculously Easy!

This stuff smells so good.

I checked out some cool websites on how to make your own vanilla extract, and I just got very Curious George up in my head. Could making real vanilla extract really be as easy as they claim it to be? The answer is yes! Yes, in the sense that I now feel like doing a little facepalm over how much money I have spent on real vanilla extract in the past. As you can see from this blog, I love to cook and to bake. When I visit people, I nearly always end up browsing through the cookbooks they have in their kitchen. I know, I am a bit crazy, but I just can't help myself! I love to try new flavors and new techniques. Well, actually, with the speed cooking that America has come to call home cooked meals, the techniques are more like old ones that are just new to me.

A close-up view of the bean pods in the vanilla extract.

Anyway, I found this cool blog, called Simply Recipes, where there was a recipe for vanilla extract.
How to Make Vanilla Extract. Then I got my butt to the grocery store, where they sell the beans in pairs, and not too cheaply. I got two bottles, leaving me with four bean pods. Naturally, since the recipe calls for 3 beans instead of four, I divided the 1 cup of vodka into three, giving me a 1/3 cup of vodka per bean. With four bean pods, that meant I needed 1 1/3 cups of vodka.

I sliced the pods as per directions and stuck them in my mason jar, then poured on the alcohol, and stuck it in a dark spot for a few months. EASY! Oh, and of course, I took a look at the bottle of vanilla extract that I bought at the store, and lo and behold...there is corn syrup in it! BOOO! I think the best part of making your own is that you can reuse and reuse the bean pods for years by just adding more vodka as you use up the vanilla. You save some money in the long run, and the flavor is really amazing! So now I feel like running outside and shouting "this Curious George has made vanilla extract! Oh yeah, baby!" Hmmm, somehow I bet my town would label me as the crazy lady if I really did, so I'll put that on hold for now.


  1. WHAT?! I've gone to Culinary School (like SERIOUSLY!) and I NEVER NEVER NEVER learned this. Which doesn't make sense, but whatevs. Anyway, going to totally try this now! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Oh, believe me, once you try this out, you might find yourself wondering how easy other things are to make. For instance, limoncello or flavor infused vodka. This stuff is pure, and it smells fantastic! Very unlike the sweet scent of purchased vanilla.