DIY Vanilla Extract

DIY Vanilla ExtractThis week, our daily rhythm has been thrown all out of whack. Firstly, Dora has been tired and stressed out from doing vision therapy. I know that she needs it, as surgery is the only other option, but she is really having to work hard at it. Also, her balance bike finally arrived, so she’s wanted to be outside riding it every moment possible. Then, to top it all off, we bought her some of the Lego friends sets and now Dora is a Lego addict! None of our other kids have been interested in Legos, but Dora has been spending hours with them and they are the first toy that Dora will play with happily all by herself. So, though we’ve not been doing any Waldorf, I cannot complain about how we’ve been spending our days.
I also can’t complain about the weather. It’s been so warm that we decided to break out the ice cream maker. While making the ice cream, I suddenly realized that I have never posted about making homemade extract on this blog.
Several years ago, I went to buy some vanilla extract and it cost $15/bottle for non-organic extract! I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it at that price. I figured there had to be a cheaper way to make it myself. So I did some research and learned that it was very easy to make myself. I’ve been making it from scratch ever since. Here’s my “recipe”:
Supplies and Ingredients:

  • A clean amber colored bottle (I buy all my bottles from Specialty Bottle, with whom I have no affiliation)
  • 3-4 vanilla beans (you can use lemon rind instead to make lemon extract, mint leaves to make mint extract, etc.)
  • Vodka (other types of alcohol can be used and will yield different results, but I have found that vodka renders the most traditional taste)


  1. Slice the vanilla beans open lengthwise and place them in your bottle (you may need to cut them into smaller segments to fit them in your bottle)
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle with vodka
  3. Allow the bottle to sit in a cool, dark place for 3+ months, shaking the bottle up once a week (-ish)
  4. After three months, you can use the bottle of extract just like you would any store-bought extract
  5. I usually remove the beans after six months, if the bottle lasts that long. Some people like to use the soaked beans to make vanilla body scrubs or vanilla sugar with, though I usually dispose of mine.

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Labels: In the Kitchen
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff