I bake a lot. I used to go through those little vanilla extract bottles about once or twice a month. I don’t like buying imitation vanilla, so the cost started adding up. I guess I could have started baking less, but that sounded lame, so I looked into other alternatives.
It turns out that it is super easy to make your own vanilla extract! I also calculated that one batch saves over $100! Of course, this is only practical if you bake a lot because:
This is what it looks like.
I make the vanilla in a gallon sized glass jar. I keep this giant thing in my cabinet and use the smaller jar in my baking space.
I purchased this small glass bottle on Amazon. It works very well for everyday use. I keep a few vanilla beans always in it to add flavor- but mostly because I like how it looks.
Would you like to give it a try? All you need is a bottle of cheap vodka (1.75 liters) and about twenty vanilla beans. I purchased the vanilla beans on Amazon and got the vodka at a local alcohol shop. I had both kids with me and assured the cashier that the giant sized cheap vodka was for baking purposes only. Ha.
Anyway. Simply slice each vanilla bean down the middle and put them all in the vodka. You don’t have to pour the vodka in a glass jar, but I do because I like to have more than what fits in a standard vodka bottle so I can add to it when it is getting low rather than having to run out completely before restocking. I use a gallon sized glass jar that I purchased at Whole Foods that was sold with apple juice.
That’s it! Just let the beans sit in the vodka for about three months (I have used it sooner). When my stores start to get low, I just add another bottle of vodka. Sometimes I throw in some new vanilla beans, but about half the time I rely on the beans that are already inside. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it becomes.
It is super easy, delicious and I haven’t had to buy expensive vanilla in tiny bottles for years. As I said previously, I calculated that one batch of vanilla saves over $100, so I’ve probably saved $300-400 since I started making my own vanilla. It also serves as a great homemade Christmas gift, um- in a smaller bottle.
***Edited to add, apparently there is a vanilla shortage right now, so the price of beans has gone up, but so has the price of vanilla extract. It might be cost effective to make half a batch for now using 8-10 beans and 3/4 a liter (or similar size- it doesn’t have to be exact) of vodka.