Vanilla extract (prepare it now for xmas!)

When it comes to the flavours and spices in my baking, I have a few favourites (other than chocolate!!) cinnamon, ginger and vanilla are my top three, they also happen to team up well with chocolate…..

It occurred to me a few weeks back that I get through a lot of vanilla, and for good quality (I use Nielsen-Massey) it gets pretty expensive.  Hmmm, I wonder if I could make my own?

Subsequent investigations revealed that yes indeed I could, and actually it’s pretty cheap and simple to do.  The instructions I have listed below are quite paired back and are the summary of my findings as a quick-fire user friendly set of instructions to follow as you go.  I did however review a variety of sources in putting these together. This is the best resource I found giving much more in depth background information, and also here is another recipe resource you may also find as a useful guide.

All the reviews indicated that the extract would be ready to use after about 8 weeks, and that it would continue to infuse for the months to follow. Quick… make some up now and you’ll have fab little Christmas gifts for the foodies in your life!!  

Recipe: Home-made vanilla extract


  • 35-40% rum or vodka
  • Vanilla beans

That is it!

I am making a few bottles each of rum and vodka for a taste comparison. I purchased six empty 250ml bottles or the vanilla and one 70CL bottle each of rum and vodka- thus three small bottles of each type of extract. (perfect pressie options… unless I keep them all to myself!) I used approx. 50 vanilla beans all together- Ebay have some great deals in organic beans. I used cheap alcohol varieties as my consensus (and the consensus of my integrate searches) was that once fully infused the extract will dominate any of the original alcohol flavouring.


Sterilise all equipment prior to use with boiling water.

Use approx. 8 vanilla beans for each 250ml bottle of extract. Cut each of the beans in half exposing the 'caviar' in the middle. Some guides suggested scraping out the caviar to get a greater surface area when it is all added to the bottle, however I felt that this wasn’t necessary as there was still a lot of exposed surface area once the bean was slit and it seemed like unnecessary mess (I usually love a good bit of mess but had wastage!) Fill the bottle(s) evenly with the split beans and then add the alcohol of choice. Secure the lid (I used a screw top with a pourer) then give a good shake, keep shaking… shaking…. Shaking!!

Shake once a day for about a week and then a few times a week thereafter for 8-12 weeks until ready. 

I can’t wait to take a good sniff of the stuff once its begun to deeply infuse… oooh the anticipation.

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