Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Everlasting Vanilla

Two ingredients, plus time, in a bottle = lovely, aromatic, everlasting vanilla

Vanilla beans are something I've really never used on their own, but I LOVE vanilla extract for all kinds of recipes, and love being able to make my own extract so easily. Plus, this is one less reason to ever go to the store. Ok, besides the liqueur store...

All you need is some hard alcohol (I use 80 proof brandy, rum, or vodka), a vanilla bean, and a clean bottle. To be fair, you also need patience. This is no instant gratification recipe. While you can use the vanilla extract after as little as six weeks, at that point it will smell more like alcohol than vanilla. Give it three months for the best flavor. 

Update: If you want to speed up the time it takes before you can use your vanilla extract, try using a greater proportion of vanilla beans in the bottle. This will have it tasting of vanilla sooner, though it will cost more.


Really, anything works as long as it's hard

What makes it everlasting? When the bottle runs low, you just top the vanilla off with more alcohol and let it set for a couple months again. You can do this many times before the vanilla bean loses it's magic. While vanilla beans aren't cheap, one bean makes a lot of extract when used like this. I buy 1 oz of organic vanilla beans (about 9 beans) for $6 from Azure Standard, but you can also find them at health food stores in bulk.


This is the first bottle I made, which is a bit too small for how often I use vanilla. In hindsight, I should have cut the vanilla bean smaller so I could use more of the liquid before refilling. Now, I use larger bottles and shorter lengths of vanilla.

Instructions:

Cut the vanilla bean into short pieces so it fits into the bottom of the bottle. If you leave the pieces long, you will have to refill it too often to be very useful (the alcohol should always cover the vanilla bean).
Place one cut bean in each 4 to 8 oz bottle (you can use 1/2 bean if using very small bottles).

Fill the bottle with hard alcohol of your choice. I've used vodka, brandy, and both dark and light rums. To me, it really doesn't make a difference which type of alcohol I use; use whatever you have!

Keep at room temperature, wait 3 months, then use as you would any store-bought vanilla extract. 

For best results, give the bottle a gentle shake every week or so, to fully distribute the vanilla flavor into the alcohol.

Refill when alcohol gets lower than the top of the vanilla bean (the alcohol preserves the bean, so it should always be submerged).

Because of the wait time after refilling the bottle, I keep two 8 oz bottles in rotation these days, so I never run out, or have to use vanilla that tastes like brandy.  

How long will it keep? Alcohol will preserve the vanilla indefinitely, as long as the beans are fully submerged and it's stored in a dark cabinet or in a dark glass bottle.

Shared at Marvelous, Real Food, Friday 5, Feed Me, Meatless Meal, Flash, Super Sunday, Pity Party, Pretty & Delicious, Divine, Tuesday's Table, Weekly Creative, Country Homemaker, Weekend Retreat, Pennywise, Greens, LHITS, Fabulously Frugal, Tuned In, Terrific, Mostly Homemade, Full Plate, Project Inspired, Try A New Recipe, You're Gonna Love It, Fluster, Eco Kids, Simple Meals, Fun Party, Small Footprint, Pintastic, What I Am Eating, Wildcrafting, Thrifty, Seasonal Celebration, Mangia, Allergy Friendly Friday, Pin Me, Kids In The Kitchen, One Creative Weekend, Adorned, Mix It Up, Clever Chicks, Raw Foods, Thriving, Riverton, Waste Not, Meatless, Showcase, Natural Living, Your Great Idea, Seasonal Inspiration, Backyard Farming, Hearth & Soul, Gluten Free Monday, Handmade Gifts, Extravaganza, Confessional, Heart & Home, Show & Tell, Farm Girl Blog Fest, Gluten Free Friday, Your Green Resource, Wonderful Food, Anti-Procrastination, Rural, Healthy 2Day, Teach Me, Sugar Free, Living Green, Homestead Barn Hop, Traditional, Tasteful, Foodie, Frugal Food, Allergy Free Wednesday, Frugal Days, Simple Lives, What's Cooking, Totally Tasty, Fit & Fabulous, Slightly Indulgent, Melt In Your Mouth, Carnival Of Home Preserving, Time Out, Sweets For A Saturday, Weekend Wander, Tiny Tip, Wellness Weekend, Feed Me, Freaky Friday, Friday Fun Party, Strut Your Stuff, and Fat Tuesday.

85 comments:

  1. Wow! This is cool, I will definitely have to try it!

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  2. I've seen recipes for homemade vanilla, but this is the most affordable option. Thanks!

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  3. Any good reason to to go to the liquor store.... Thank you for sharing this awesome idea! vanilla extract gets really expensive.

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  4. My vanilla is at about the 8 week mark although I have used some it is not quite right yet. I have seen someone say to just top it up with a little alcohol each time they use it and that keeps it going.

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    1. That's what I was told to do as well, Deanne, but I use vanilla too often for that to work for me. It would just taste like alcohol after a couple weeks of use + topping, so that's why I rotate between a few bottles, so I always have mature vanilla extract ready to use.

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    2. I have been doing this for several years. I found vodka works well for it.
      Am gona have to try the rum or brandy ones, or both!!

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  5. I am getting ready to do a vanilla post myself. When my mom came to visit she was so impressed that I made my own vanilla that she begged me to make some for her for Christmas. :)

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  6. I've always wanted to make my own, but keep putting it off. Thanks for the recipe and for linking up at Tiny Tip Tuesday!

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  7. I've been making my own vanilla for a while now. It so much cheaper than the store bought stuff, and you're guaranteed to know exactly what ingredients are in your extract.

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  8. Great post!

    Thanks for linking this up at the Carnival of Home Preserving!

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  9. This great to know. I have been keeping my vanilla pods in a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar, but didn't know that you could make vanilla extract this way - so much nicer than the artificial vanilla essences you buy too.

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    1. Vanilla sugar sounds yummy! I love not having to buy vanilla extract ever again though.

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  10. How long can you use the same vanilla beans? After how long do they need replaced?

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    1. I think after using them a few times it will probably start to take longer and longer to infuse the vanilla flavor into the alcohol. I'm sure they can't actually be "everlasting", but I bought about 9 beans, and have several bottles of vanilla going, and have been using the vanilla pretty heavily for over a year, without diminishing flavor. I don't have a straight answer as far as time that they last, but I would just replace them after they don't seem to be doing the job!

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  11. Replies
    1. One whole bean should be perfect in an 8 oz jar. Sorry I didn't make that clear in the article, I'll update it!

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  12. Wonderful! I will definitely give this a try.

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  13. totally just purchased 30 vanilla beans off of amazon for this for christmas presents (and for me) this year! I just need to find some jars now. :)

    www.munchtalk.net

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    1. That is going to be so nice. I've never made these for gifts, but it's a great idea!

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  14. I just started a batch of Vanilla infusion a few days ago. It smells so good I wish it would go faster! What proof alcohol do you use? I am using my 100 proof vodka I use for herbal infusions right now but it sounds kind of extreme.

    I would love it if you could share this on my new blog hop Natural Living Monday. I know my readers would too!

    http://www.naturallivingmamma.com/2012/10/07/natural-living-monday-5/

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    1. I use 80 proof alcohol. You're right, it doesn't need to be as strong as for many infusions, but I'm sure it will work!
      I will totally check out your blog hop, thanks!

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  15. I use so much vanilla in my smoothies and so far I've been avoiding alcohol based vanilla and just using the ground vanilla which is gorgeous but very expensive. I may just have to bite the bullet and give this a try as it would save me a fortune! Thank you.

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  16. my mom used to make her own vanilla...i remember her always running down into mexico to buy her vanilla beans for some reason!

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  17. I've been making my own vanilla for years now. It's so easy and tastes better than the store bought!

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  18. Wow! Great post with a wonderful recipe ~ (A Creative Harbor) ^_^

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  19. I like the idea of keeping smaller bottles for immediate use! :)

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  20. I've been going to do this for quite a few years now.I keep forgetting, next time I visit my dad I will get a bottle of alcohol as he has a still sp ? and brews his own then it will be free other then the beans of course but I have a bottle full. I make a gorgeous recipe and I use half a vanilla bean in it. I throw it into the food processor and add all the other ingredients here is the recipe link it's raw healthy, sugar free, dairy free, gluten free chocolate truffles. They make great gifts for family and friends, every one will be asking for the recipe... http://simpleliving-sherrie.blogspot.com.au/2010/12/home-made-chocolate-truffles.html
    I love your blog you seem to live as our family lives natural as possible !
    Sherrie from Simpleliving :)

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    1. Yum, I've got to try your truffle recipe, Sherrie! Thanks for sharing it.
      Man, I'd love to make this extract with moonshine!

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    2. Hi Mellow, I finally made my vanilla extract that I've been going to make for so many years I've lost count. I got a big bottle of pure alcohol from my dad as he has a still and I had some organic vanilla beans...so thanks to your blog it reminded me once again to make some. yeah finally :):):)

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  21. Thanks for the warning about the six week mark; I was about to try this myself for the first time (though every recipe I've seen calls for vodka, so that's what I was going to get), and it just said to steep it for six weeks. I'll steep it for three months now, because I want vanilla tasting vanilla, not vodka tasting vanilla! ;)

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    1. I have a feeling 6 weeks may work fine if you use a higher proportion of vanilla to alcohol. I use one bean in an 8 oz bottle, but I have seen other recipes that really pack the beans in there. That sounds expensive, to me ;)

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  22. How do you make non-alcoholic Vanilla Flavoring instead of Vanilla Extract?
    Thanks for your advice :)

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    1. I believe those are made with glycerine. Perhaps in the same way, just substituting glycerine for the alcohol? I haven't done it that way though, sorry!

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  23. How long will the bottle last, I don't use it a lot but would like to make this? I am always worried about making things homemade as to how long it last before it goes bad.

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    1. That's a great question, and I will update my article with the answer, but here you go: As long as the vanilla is covered by the alcohol, it will last indefinitely. Alcohol is a great preservative, and it will prevent the vanilla from molding or anything. I would store it either in a dark glass bottle, or in a dark cabinet if you don't use it regularly, to protect the oils in the vanilla from light damage.

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  24. couldn't you just drop a few beans into a 1/5 or 1/2 gallon of vodka instead of the smaller alcohol is generally cheaper in the larger amounts, and you could just use the original container - save cost. It sounds like it would be excellent to add to your homemade cough syrups/elixers.

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    1. You definitely could make the extract directly in the larger alcohol bottles. I would probably put the whole ounce of vanilla beans in a 1/2 gallon, probably just 3 or 4 beans in a 1/5. I thought about doing it that way, but we figured we might want some of our brandy and rum for other things occasionally. Also, I prefer pouring the teaspoon or so needed for recipes from a small bottle. You don't have to buy these small bottles, you can just save them from other things, so this method doesn't have to cost any more than just making them right in the larger bottle.

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  25. Me and my mom Really want to try this but we dont think my father would apriciate us keeping vodka in the house.....

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    1. You might want to try making a vanilla extract using glycerine instead. For people who can't have alcohol, I believe glycerine is a useful substitute. I've never done it this way, but you could google a recipe. Good luck!

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  26. I have mine currently brewing. There are little particles of vanilla bean. Do you strain it when it's done? Where do you buy dark bottles? Thanks!

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    1. The particles are probably totally fine and would go unnoticed in anything you use it for. Think of vanilla bean ice cream, which has vanilla bean flecks to fancy it up... My extract has some sediment from the beans, but it stays at the bottom so it's never been an issue when I use it.
      I don't strain it, I just use it until it needs to be topped off with more alcohol, and then I switch to one of my other bottles that's been brewing, in a rotation that keeps me always in mature vanilla extract.
      The dark bottles can be repurposed from other extracts, or bought new online. I believe mountainroseherbs.com carries them.

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  27. So cool! I have wanted to try this for a long time but vanilla beans at the supermarket were so expensive. Then I saw that my local health food store carries vanilla beans in bulk for cheaper, so I can't wait to try it!

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    1. Bulk spices are such a great deal! Glad you found something that will work.

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  28. I have made some for gifts! Its so easy to make and tastes SO good in recipes!!! Thanks for kicking off the Gluten Free Fridays party this weekend! WOOT! We have some awesome recipes and they just keep coming!! So....Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :) Cindy from vegetarianmamma.com

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  29. This is genius and definitely something I will make!

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  30. Awesome idea (perfect for holiday season too). How many times do you think you are able to refill the bottle before needing new vanilla beans? Thanks so much for this tutorial!

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    1. I haven't kept track of how many times I've refilled mine (some tally marks on the bottle would've been useful!) but I do think that it takes a bit longer each time, because the beans lose their potency after a while.

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  31. I love vanilla, and the flavour from vanilla beans is always so lovely. It's great to make your own vanilla extract where you can - then you know exactly what's in it :)

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    1. That's seriously how I feel about nearly everything these days! I feel like if I can't make it, we're probably better off without it ;)

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  32. I love this, and have been wanting to make my own for ages, but you've inspired me to get off my butt and do it. My co-op sells beans for cheap so I'm going to pick some up ASAP!

    Thanks for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday :)

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  33. I too have always wanted to make my own vanilla! I even have the beans! Thanks for taking the mystery out of it for us! Thanks for sharing this at Raw Foods Thursdays!

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  34. I wasn't aware that you could make vanilla extract using rum, YUM!! Thank you for sharing at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop, I will be featuring you this week! Please feel free to grab my Featured button!

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick
    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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  35. This sounds amazing, I've never made my own, but I'd love to try! Thanks so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday :)

    http://www.flourmewithlove.com/2013/01/mix-it-up-monday.html#more

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    1. I'm featuring this today :)

      http://www.flourmewithlove.com/2013/01/featuring-you_9.html

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    2. Thank you so much for the feature, Lisa!

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  36. Great idea! I've never made my own vanilla but I love how easy it is! I'm thinking some vanilla beans are in order! Thanks for linking up to One Creative Weekend!

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  37. I've been dying to try this out, thanks so much for the tips! Stopping by from Pin Me, stop by if you get a moment Running Away? I'll Help You Pack!

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  38. Very interesting process! Thanks for sharing at this week's Pin Me Linky Party.

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  39. I've been meaning to do this :) Found this on Seasonal Celebration :)

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  40. A super idea and one I'm planning to put together this weekend. Thank you for sharing this with us and I hope very much to see you over at Seasonal Celebration today! Rebecca @Natural Mothers Network x

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  41. This is awesome! This might be a dumb question - but where do you get the bottles from??

    Sarah
    anythingbetween

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    1. Not a dumb question- I reuse bottles when I can, so I have some smaller size vanilla bottles that are reused from storebought vanilla. The larger bottles were bought by a friend of mine. She bought a case of them online somewhere and I bought two from her. I'm not sure what site she got them from, but there are several websites that sell bottles. Good luck Sarah!

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  42. This is wonderful to know! This is my first time joining in the Small Footprint Fridays, and it's amazing how many people are sharing about living a more sustainable life. Thanks for the vanilla recipe--I'm excited to try it.

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  43. Thanks for sharing with Simple Meals Friday! We featured this post today! :) I hope you join us again!
    http://nourishingsimplicity.org/2013/03/simple-meals-friday-22.html

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    1. Thank you so much for the feature!

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  44. We have the vanilla beans just need the rum (or whatever) Thanks for sharing with us. Hope to see you again tomorrow at Eco-Kids Tuesday!!

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  45. I love really good vanilla. This seems like a great recipe. I go through so much of this stuff that I can't wait to try this.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Have a great week,
    Bev
    @ Eclectic Red Barn

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  46. I love this idea! I am going to try it soon. Thanks for sharing.

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  47. Thanks so much for linking up with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday." I will be featuring this recipe! Congratulations! :-) :-) Be sure to stop by and grab an "I've been featured" button from my sidebar. The post will go live on Monday evening around 11pm Eastern. I can't wait to see what you share this week! :-)

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  48. This is a great homemade vanilla. Your recipe is fabulous and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. Have a great weekend and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

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  49. I've never tried making my own, and it looks so easy. Thanks for sharing your tip at Fabulously Frugal Thursday!

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  50. I absolutely love homemade vanilla---it tastes SO much better than store-bought and lasts forever! I am about due to make some more here!

    I'd like to invite you to share this post and up to two others at Farm Girl Blog Fest #33, which is live right now. You would be a great addition to the wonderful posts that are shared!

    Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest #33

    Hope to see you there!
    ~Kristi@Let This Mind Be in You

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  51. I have had a bottle of vanilla extract going since 1994. It makes your baking much more flavorful. The only thing that I do different is that I also cut my beans long ways to expose the inside flesh of the bean to the alcohol. It speads up the process a little bit. It also allows some of the seeds to get into your cooking if you shake the bottle before using.

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  52. Wow, what a great post! Love the idea of making my own vanilla extract, even if takes 3 months! lol! Thanks so much for sharing! Found you at Tuesday's Table's linky party.

    Christine :)
    http://www.myepicureanadventures.com

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  53. Nothing like homemade vanilla! Visiting from Far Above Rubies.

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  54. I love this, pinning to my healthy eating board, followed you here from the Friday Flash Blog Hop.

    Consider sharing on a new link up called Real Food Fridays, looking for co-hosts.
    http://yourlife7.blogspot.com/2013/09/real-food-friday-7-link-up.html

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