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!
The Tools & Ingredients Used in this Recipe:
This Homemade Vanilla Recipe will make enough to fill approx. 48 (4 ounce) Bottles. You can always scale the recipe up or down depending on how much you want to make.
- 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.
ADDITIONAL TOOLS & SUPPLIES:
- 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 1/4″ – 1/2″ 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).
You will need the following amounts of Vanilla per Bottle:
- 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)
ALTERNATIVE BULK BREW METHOD: If you are not planning to give away the bottles as gifts or if you want to brew it in bulk, you can use your 1 lb. of split Vanilla Beans & (almost) all of your Vodka by placing everything in a 5L jar (like this one) or divided into several quart sized mason jars, and letting the mixture brew for several weeks in a cool, dark location in your pantry. As long as you shake it periodically and make sure all of the beans are covered in Vodka, the Vanilla should stay good for years!
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.
- Serving Size: 1 Teaspoon
- Calories: 28
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.