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Homemade Vanilla Extract (and a GIVEAWAY!)

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Yes, it’s after Christmas. Yes, I’m posting a holiday gift idea when gift giving is probably the last thing you want to be thinking about. In my defense, I had to wait, otherwise it would have ruined the surprise for our parents, who each received a set of these for Christmas. For what it’s worth, this is not a last minute gift. I let mine steep for about 6 months. So you should be thanking me for giving you such a fabulous gift idea you can get started on so far in advance. You’re welcome.

Homemade vanilla extract. It sounds so… complicated. So involved. Something akin to distilling your own whiskey or something. But you’d be surprised how simple it is. As easy as pouring some booze into a bottle with a few vanilla beans, and then forgetting about it for 6 months. I think we’re all capable of that.

For this particular batch I purchased three different varieties of vanilla beans: Madagascar, Tahitian, and Tonga. I just love the idea of comparing the subtleties present in each variety (obviously, because I’ve done it before with eggplant, summer squash, figs, and garlic) and the three-extract sampler made the gift that much more special. The final product was packaged in 4oz amber bottles and stickered with a lovely designed label indicating the variety. I knew our parents would appreciate them so much more than a store-bought present.

Hooray for planning ahead.

(Psst! If you like the labels I designed here, you can download a free printable pdf of them to use for your very own homemade vanilla extract!)

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Makes 16 ounces.

Ingredients:

6-10 fresh vanilla beans (more beans will yield a stronger extract in shorter amount of time)
16 oz. (2 cups) vodka or other liquor

Directions:

Split vanilla beans and scrape out seeds. Cut pods into 1" pieces. Put both seeds and pod pieces into a glass jar or bottle. Fill with vodka and seal. Store jars in a cool dark place, gently shaking the mixture several times a week. For best results, allow to brew for at least two months, if not longer. The extract will get better with age.

Strain out solids prior to using.

You can also refill the bottle with more vodka as it is used. Occasionally you may also want to strain out the old vanilla beans and replace them with fresh beans. This is also a great use for old beans or beans used for other purposes (once you've scraped out the seeds for your other recipe, simply cut up the empty pod and add it to your extract.)

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Guess what? I’ve got another giveaway for you! I wanted to include this one in giveaway week, but since these bottles were actually given to family members, that would have ruined the surprise. So I had to wait. Call it a belated Christmas gift, if you will.

Beanilla, online retailer of gourmet vanilla beans and vanilla products and where I purchased my beans for this project, has so kindly offered one lucky reader a gift set that includes 3 Madagascar vanilla beans and 3 Tahitian vanilla beans, plus a 1/2 ounce jar of ground vanilla. I truly believe in having fresh vanilla beans on hand at all times, and Beanilla is a quality and affordable source (ie: not the dry and dull beans that they sell in the grocery stores for $10 a pop). Do yourself a favor, buy a bunch. When the price per bean is so reasonable, you don’t have to treat them like precious objects; you’ll find yourself using them to gussy up your everyday dishes and baked goods.

***GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***

To Enter:

Simply leave a comment on this post with the answer to this question:
What is your all time favorite vanilla recipe?

Entries open through 1/8/11 at 11:59 CST. I’ll be randomly selecting the winner the morning of Sunday, January 9th. Prize will be shipped to the winner directly from Beanilla. Beanilla is willing to ship this prize internationally.

Want Extra Entries?
Increase your odds of winning! In addition to the main entry comment, leave a separate comment for each bonus entry.
1. Follow @loveandoliveoil on twitter and tweet the following:
I just entered to win a vanilla sampler from @beanilla and @loveandoliveoil! Enter here: http://bit.ly/eHuESh
2. Like Love & Olive Oil on Facebook (or if you are already a fan just say so!)

Be sure you enter a valid email address, because if your name is drawn and I can’t get a hold of you within 48 hours, I will choose an alternate winner. You may also want to add me to your address book (lindsay AT loveandoliveoil DOT com), as I’d hate for your congratulatory email to end up in the spam folder.

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644 CommentsLeave a Comment →

1 2 3 7
  1. 1
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Favorite vanilla recipe – vanilla bean Ice Cream!!!!

    Reply

  2. 2
    Ellie
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    My favorite recipe using vanilla has to be vanilla buttercream. To this basic recipe you can create so many flavor variations and it will always be yummy!

    Reply

  3. 3
    Carolyn
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I love using homemade vanilla pudding as a custard filling for homemade donuts! Yum!

    Reply

  4. 4
    Kim Dries
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Homemade vanilla yogurt – yum!

    Reply

  5. 5
    Deanna
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I would have to say the Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies that I just made for Christmas!

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I am a purist so I would have to say a luscious vanilla caramel.

    Reply

  7. 7
    Cathy
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Wow, your extract looks absolutely amazing! I have a new favorite vanilla recipe, Martha Stewart’s Basic Vanilla Cookie Dough. It was in the December issue, and made delicious sugar cookies. Thank you for the giveaway!

    Reply

  8. 8
    Kim
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Vanilla Creme Brulee!! So rich & so yummy, and so amazing with fresh vanilla beans!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Tiffany
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    WOW! Beautiful! Where did you make your labels?

    My favorite NEW vanilla recipe is my chocolate cream pie made with coconut milk, chocolate and vanilla. So delicious!

    Reply

    • Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you! :) I designed the labels, and printed them out on basic sticker paper. Also, do you have a recipe for that pie? :) Cream pies are always so rich to me, and making it with coconut milk sounds like a fabulous option!

  11. 11
    Wendi
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I love vanilla milk. half whole milk & half cream, sweetened with suagr, and homemade vanilla. Yum!

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe is for vanilla butter cookies.

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Vanilla recipe…..butter cookies!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

  14. 14
    Wendi
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    already a fan on FB.

    Reply

  15. 15
    Debbie H.
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I like making vanilla sugar with the pods left after I scrape out the seeds.

    Reply

  16. 16
    Lily
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I’m simple–my favorite recipe is vanilla ice cream, preferably on top of a warm slice of pie!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Danielle
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Vanilla roasted strawberries!

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Goodness, this is so cool – and I LOVE the labels. :)

    My favorite vanilla recipe is this simple one for vanilla popcorn: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Vanilla-Popcorn/Detail.aspx Yum!

    Reply

  19. 19
    Danielle
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Also, I’m a fan on facebook.

    Reply

  20. 20
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    And I’m a Facebook fan!

    Reply

  21. 21
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    I’m a facebook fan!

    Reply

  22. 22
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe is a pound cake soaked with a vanilla simple syrup. The syrup had several tablespoons of vanilla and vanilla seeds so it had an intense vanilla flavor.

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    vanilla bean caramel sauce.. it’s so delicious.

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I love making my own vanilla extract! I think my all-time favorite vanilla recipe is for vanilla bean scones.

    Reply

  25. 25
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    vanilla custard and vanilla/cinnamon sugar cookies. YUMCITY.

    Reply

  26. 26
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    This sounds like an amazing gift!
    I’d say my all-time favorite vanilla recipe is just a basic vanilla whipped cream. I’m a sucker for licking the cream off the beaters.

    Reply

  27. 27
    Hope
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Homemade vanilla pudding is my favorite vanilla recipe.

    Reply

  28. 28
    rocio
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    i love martha’s salted chocolate & vanilla bean cookies! so tasty :)

    Reply

  29. 29
    Hope
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I followed and tweeted on Twitter.

    Reply

  30. 30
    rocio
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    i also follow you on facebook :)

    Reply

  31. 31
    Hope
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    And I am now a FB fan. :)

    Reply

  32. 32
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I already follow you on Twitter and tweeted the following: http://twitter.com/singerinkitchen/status/22415761221881856

    Reply

  33. 33
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    i LOVE fresh creme chantilly :)

    Reply

  34. 34
    Marie
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I love the vanilla cranberry coffee cake from Smitten Kitchen!

    Reply

  35. 35
    Marie
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    And I am a fan on Facebook!

    Reply

  36. 36
    Rebecca Boetticher
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    One of my favorites is a yummy vanilla buttercream frosting!!

    Reply

  37. 37
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Adorable and I LOVE the labels! I am making vanila bean cupcakes this weekend!

    Reply

  38. 38
    Rebecca Boetticher
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Liked on Facebook!!

    Reply

  39. 39
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    My favorite use for vanilla is in frosting…really good frosting

    Reply

  40. 40
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Warm vanilla milk!

    Reply

  41. 41
    Christina
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    This is a fantastic giveaway!!! I make a delicious vanilla bread pudding complete with homemade vanilla rum sauce! Yum!!!

    Reply

  42. 42
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Vanilla bean ice cream. Hands down… I’m also already a fb fan :)

    ~M~

    Reply

  43. 43
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Warm vanilla milk.

    Reply

  44. 44
    Jennifer
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    i’m not sure i have a favorite recipe specifically for vanilla, but i like to put vanilla in just about everything! my latest concoction that contained vanilla was Browned Butter Winter Citrus Pancakes. Yum-my!!!

    Reply

  45. 45
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I already follow you on Facebook! :)

    Reply

  46. 46
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Vanilla is my favorite flavor, so I put it in EVERYTHING! Cookies, cupcakes, buttercream, ice cream. I love it all.

    Reply

  47. 47
    Lindsey
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    homemade vanilla bean ice cream

    Reply

  48. 48
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Mmmmm … vaaaannniiillllaaaaaaaaaaaa …

    Reply

  49. 49
    Mariah
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Vanilla steamed milk–absolutely delicious light snack!

    Reply

  50. 50
    Ellen
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Vanilla bean pudding!

    Reply

  51. 51
    Mariah
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Also, following you on Facebook!

    Reply

  52. 52
    Mariah
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    And following you on Twitter!

    Reply

  53. 53
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    My favorite thing I’ve made to date is vanilla lavender simple syrup, delicious in a vodka cocktail. But my favorite thing in the world is devil’s food chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream icing. Oo, heaven.

    Love the blog, love your facebook and some homemade vanilla extract would make my month!

    Reply

  54. 54
    Mariah
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Hm, this didn’t post the first time:
    vanilla steamed milk–delicious light snack =)

    Reply

  55. 55
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    My all time favorite vanilla recipe is David Lebowitz’s vanilla bean ice cream – fantastic vanilla bean flavor! :)

    Reply

  56. 56
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm
  57. 57
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out a favorite vanilla recipe!

    Reply

  58. 58
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Omg thats so awesome :D

    I’m not such a big cook, but I love my vanilla – chocolate muffins, that luckily come out really nice everytime. :D

    And of course my Vanilla – Cinnamon soap hehe (im cheating)

    xxx

    Reply

  59. 59
    Clifford
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Can’t beat Vanilla ice cream.

    Reply

  60. 60
    Randi
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    i LOVE vanilla custard stuffed into any delicious pastry.

    Reply

  61. 61
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I love adding vanilla to macaroons. Yum!

    Reply

  62. 62
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I like Love & Olive Oil on facebook

    Reply

  63. 64
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    I ‘like’ you on FB.

    Reply

  64. 66
    Danna
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I like vanilla ice cream where you can actually see the bean bits.

    Reply

  65. 67
    courtney
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    vanilla bean crème brûlée!

    Reply

  66. 68
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I’m more of a chocolate person, but my hubs LOVES vanilla bean cheese cake. Which I would totally make for him and try not to eat it all if I got these.

    Reply

  67. 69
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Wow, I don’t even know! Maybe just a really good quality vanilla [vegan] ice cream…

    Reply

  68. 70
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  69. 71
    Leah
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Clafouti with a whole vanilla bean scraped into the custard. But I’m definitely getting some new ideas from your other comments!

    Reply

  70. 72
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    So pretty!
    My favorite vanilla recipe would probably be my favorite cupcake. So simple and delicious.

    Reply

  71. 73
    Becki H
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I am really just surprised what vanilla goes into. I am intrigued by its entrance into some chocolate pudding I made the other day.

    Reply

  72. 74
    Becki H
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I “like” you on Facebook.

    Reply

  73. 75
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    tweeted the giveaway

    Reply

  74. 76
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Already like you on fb :)

    Reply

  75. 77
    Katy
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Vanilla bean cookies! They are tiny and tender and almond-y and taste even more amazing after a week or two in the freezer.

    Reply

  76. 78
    Shannon W
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I’m a huge fan of fresh vanilla bean ice cream on a warm brownie. Love it on a cold night!

    Reply

  77. 79
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Vanilla bean cheesecake!

    Reply

  78. 80
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    “Liked” on Facebook.

    Reply

  79. 81
    Shannon W
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm
  80. 82
    Shannon W
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    And I’m a HUGE fan on fbook :)

    Reply

  81. 83
    TZel
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Vanilla whipped cream!

    Reply

  82. 84
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I tweeted @icywit (and now follow).

    Reply

  83. 85
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Good ol’ homemade vanilla ice cream. Yum!

    Reply

  84. 86
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Wow that is much easier than I imagined!! How long can they sit for?? I would LOVE to make this as a wedding favor :) As for favorite vanilla recipe…eek I don’t have one! Surely I would come up with thousands though if I won ;)

    Reply

  85. 87
    Carrie
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Buttercream! But thanks so much for letting me know about Beanilla. We’ve been wanting to get our hands on cheaper vanilla pods.

    Reply

  86. 88
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Creme Brulee! Followed by Vanilla Ice Cream.

    Reply

  87. 89
    Carrie
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Retweeted as well!

    Reply

  88. 90
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    & I’m a fan on facebook

    Reply

  89. 91
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    tweeted, too!

    Reply

  90. 92
    Jessica
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Vanilla Bean Scone

    Reply

  91. 93
    Tiffany
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    i’m also a Facebook fan!

    Reply

  92. 94
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    You can’t beat David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream recipe…French style!

    Reply

  93. 95
    Meghan
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I add extra vanilla to every recipe. I’m an addict.

    My favorite way to enjoy is in my oatmeal. I make quick oats, add vanilla, cinnamon, and a little bit of brown sugar or apple sauce. I also love it in vanilla buttercream. Yum.

    Reply

  94. 96
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Homemade vanilla ice cream and vanilla, cardamom peach pie.

    Reply

  95. 97
    Meghan
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I retweeted. :)

    Reply

  96. 98
    Meghan
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    and I’m a facebook fan!

    Reply

  97. 99
    Karen Thompson
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I love vanilla butter cream icing!

    Reply

  98. 100
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Vanilla buttercream frosting. :-D

    Reply

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