We use a LOT of vanilla in our house. Not only does it add amazing flavor to baked recipes, it’s delicious in smoothies & other blended drinks (in the Vitamix of course).
REAL vanilla (not the imitation stuff made with chemicals) is VERY expensive! And even the ‘natural’ brands still don’t guarantee it’s 100% Pure. Take Costco’s brand of ‘real’ vanilla for example: It’s a fair price & tastes good, but when you flip the bottle around and read the label, the ingredients are: Vanilla, Alcohol & SUGAR! Ugh… Why do they need to add extra sugar?!
Not only is this Homemade Vanilla Recipe even better tasting & more concentrated, but its SO EASY & much cheaper! It makes a fantastic gift during the holiday’s or a perfect house warming gift.
PLUS, I’ve made a FREE Printable Label & Tag that you can use when you make yours… CLICK HERE for the instructions & files to download.
Many online recipes call for ‘brewing your vanilla’ months in advance, then filtering out all the good stuff (like the pods & seeds) & throwing it away. Nooooooo!!!! Don’t do that! The vanilla beans can be re-used at least one more time, if not more. I bottle up my Vanilla with the pods & seeds and leave it all in there – that way I can just top it off with more Vodka* & keep using it.
*Ironically I’m using a lot of Vodka, & I’ve never tried drinking it, or any hard liquor for that matter (& I’m Italian!). But, I do use Vodka for homemade herbal tinctures, and this vanilla! =) I cringe a little when people I know see me buying 3 giant bottles of Vodka all at once… I know they’re probably thinking “It must be those all those boys driving her to drinking!” Haha!
Here are the Special Supplies I used:
- 1 lb. Vanilla Beans (I use the Premium Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans from Olive Nation - they sell them on their website directly or here through Amazon)
- 3 x 1.75L Bottles of Vodka (Most experts say that all Vodka is gluten free since the distillation process eliminates any trace of grain. But if you are a Celiac or extremely Gluten/Grain intolerant, then you can find Gluten Free Vodka made with either corn, potatoes, cane sugar, pineapple & anything other than a grain.
- 48 x 4oz Amber Colored Bottles with Caps (I buy mine direct from Amazon for about .90 cents a bottle) You can also make any combination of 2, 4 or 8 ounce bottles - but I find that 4 ounce bottles are just the right size for gifts & pantry. Be sure to buy the ones from 'Glass Bottle Outlet' on Amazon -- the are the best quality & come packaged well.
- Small Funnel for Filling the Jars
- Kitchen Shears or Scissors for Cutting the Vanilla Beans
- Cutting Board
- Wash Bottles & Caps in warm soapy water, then rinse well and allow to dry completely.
- With a Sharp Pair of Scissors, cut open Vanilla Beans in Half Lengthwise (all the way down the middle, splitting the bean pod open)
- Cut the Beans again, but this time Widthwise in Half. This will give you 4 quarters of each bean pod.
- Stuff the quartered Vanilla Beans into your bottle & fill with Vodka until it reaches within ¼" - ½" of the top.
- Wipe the rims of each bottle with a clean towel.
- Place the cap tightly on the bottle and give it a vigorous shaking.
- Repeat the process until all of the bottles have been filled.
- Set filled bottles aside in the box they came in & store in a cool, dark place until giving or use.
- Typically, you want to let the Vanilla brew for at least 2-3 months before using it - shaking it periodically. You can also brew it several months in advance so that the Vanilla flavors concentrate more. However, I typically make it about a month before Christmas & give it away with a little set of instructions (CLICK HERE for the free printable I made for you to use).
- Eight Ounce Bottles = 4 Vanilla Beans (cut into 16 quarters)
- Four Ounce Bottles = 2 Vanilla Beans (cut into 8 quarters)
- Two Ounce Bottles = 1 Vanilla Bean (cut into quarters)
FILTERING TIPS: If you decide you want to filter your Bulk Prepared Vanilla before use, you can do so through a Nut Milk Bag, Fine Sieve, or Several Layers of Cheese Cloth over a Colander & Bowl. If a few seeds (the tiny black specks) get in there, don't worry about it, they are delicious & safe to eat!
MAKING VANILLA SUGAR WITH LEFTOVER BEAN PODS: If you decide to filter out your Vanilla Beans after brewing for several months, don't throw them away! Instead, you can make some homemade Vanilla Infused Sugar. Just place a few of the bean pods in a glass container & cover with sugar. Let it sit for a few weeks & your sugar will have a lovely Vanilla scent & flavor accent... perfect for making Sugar Scrubs or in Recipes.
ADDITIONAL TIPS: You may also need to wipe down the outer bottle as well before placing your labels on.
Gather your supplies to make homemade Vanilla.
Wash your bottles & lids in hot soapy water & rinse well. Let completely dry before filling.
Split whole Vanilla Beans lengthwise & again widthwise into quarters.
Continue until you have enough Vanilla Beans for all of your jars. I like putting mine into small stacks for easy loading.
Place the appropriate amount of split Vanilla Beans into each Bottle.
Fill Bottles with Vodka – leave approximately 1/4″ – 1/2″ headspace, but be sure all Vanilla Beans are completely covered.
Wipe rims of bottles & screw caps on tightly.
Put your Free labels & tags on your bottles for gift giving.
Be sure to write down your brew date on the Instructions Tag.
Store jars in a cool dark location & shake periodically. I like to use the box the bottles came in for storage. I can also carefully shake all the bottles at once this way too.