Making Life Delicious Since 1983

Homemade Vanilla Extract

vanilla 2Homemade vanilla extract is one of the easiest to make and most used ingredients you’ll ever have in your cupboard! Two items is all it takes; vanilla bean & liquor, plus a little patience for it to age into perfection.

Below you’ll find three simple yet delicious recipes using vanilla beans:
Pure Vanilla Extract
Vanilla Sugar
Vanilla Salt
Three items that you won’t ever want to be without and also make perfect homemade gifts!

You may wonder what is so great about homemade vanilla compared to all the different varieties of vanilla extracts already on the store shelves?
Besides the rich delicious flavor, the satisfaction of making it yourself and the chance to create your own unique flavor with different liquors; the main reason is because you’ll know exactly what is in it.


Pure vanilla extract is a blend of natural and artificial flavors with some alcohol content, water and sugar. Imitation vanilla, however, is made from synthetic vanillin, which is the compound that naturally occurs in vanilla beans and gives it that distinctive flavor, difficult to taste a difference sometimes but what’s important is it’s not a natural ingredient.

Making your own vanilla not only is a healthier option but a more delicious one. Often vodka is used because of it’s more neutral flavor profile but you can kick up the flavor punch by using rum, brandy or bourbon, all of which have rich warm flavor profiles that perfectly pair with vanilla.
You also don’t need to buy expensive liquor to make homemade vanilla, an inexpensive one works perfectly well.

About the bean:
Vanilla beans are one of the most expensive single items you’ll stock in your kitchen. Due to poor harvesting, a market race to horde product and a massive cyclone a few years back wiping out most of the crops in Madagascar, the market saw a 1500% increase in price in three years, and unfortunately there is no sign of the price dropping soon.
But also growing a vanilla bean and preparing it for the market place is a very labour intensive job.
Vanilla comes from the string-bean-like pod of a climbing orchid, whose greenish-white flowers bloom briefly and are without fragrance. Since the blossoms last only one day, they must be hand-pollinated exactly on schedule. The beans mature after 6 weeks of fertilization, but cannot be harvested for some months longer.
When the vanilla bean turns ripe, the farmers plunge the beans in scalding hot water to stop the ripening; they dry and process them, using sweating boxes, blankets, racks, and ovens; and slowly cure them in the sun for six to nine months to bring the moisture content down to around 30%.The glorious aroma and taste don’t adorn the growing plant. It’s only as the beans ferment to wrinkled brown pods and that famous robust aroma starts to fill the air.


Below are 3 homemade vanilla treats to make for your pantry. Each recipe comes with tips for use in recipes as well. These three homemade vanilla creations also make perfect gifts for holidays!

vanilla 2


Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract

  • 80 proof liquor such as vodka, bourbon, brandy or rum are best
  • Vanilla beans
  • Smaller jars for gift giving.
  • Patience to let it age 4-6 weeks before using
  • TIP: approximately 1/2 bean for 2 oz of liquor


It’s as easy as splitting the bean down one side, inserting it into the liquor, tightening cap, shaking well and waiting 4-6 weeks to use, shaking every week during the initial aging process.
The longer you can wait to use it the more vanilla essence the liquor will take on.
Keep out of sunlight in a cool place,


  • You can continue to top up your vanilla for over a year, adding liquor to the bottle as use occurs, but after a year all of your beans essence will be used up.
  • It’s not necessary to use ‘good’ liquor for this recipe but most chefs prefer to cook with what they would drink! (Bourbon is the best whiskey do to it’s natural rich overtones)
  • If you are just making a bottle for home use you can simply split the beans down one side and insert beans directly into the liquor bottle. A 750ml bottle of liquor would do best with 6-8 beans inserted.
  • If you are making small bottles for gifts, any bottles under 16oz. only really require a split bean the height of the bottle’s interior. Bottles over 16oz, it’s best to use 2 or more beans.


homemade vanillaVanilla Sugar


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • Either one big jar for home use or multiple small jars for gift giving.


Place sugar in a bowl.

Split the bean length wise on one side and carefully scrape out the seeds with the sharp tip of the knife,

adding the sticky seeds to the sugar.

Blend well then pour into jar(s). You can add one of the whole beans (or both) into the sugar, you could then use the second bean for homemade vanilla recipe.




Vanilla Salt



Split the bean length wise on one side and carefully scrape out the seeds with the sharp tip of the knife, adding the sticky seeds to the salt.

Mix well and store in an air tight container.

Use bean pod to make homemade vanilla or vanilla sugar.


  • For sweet recipes, use this to sprinkle on top of chocolate or caramel candies or baked goods like macaroons or double chocolate chip cookies
  • For savory recipes, use this dishes featuring carrots, sweet potatoes & winter squash. It also works nicely on some fish, such as salmon and lobster





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