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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. 101
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Also, have liked on Facebook.

    Reply

  2. 102
    Karen Thompson
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Oh! And I’m a fan on Facebook!

    Reply

  3. 103
    Lisa
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Vanilla Panna Cotta….. mmmmm

    Reply

  4. 104
    Alice C.
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Oh man! Hard to pick! Pretty much everything is better with vanilla. ;)

    Reply

  5. 105
    Amy
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I’ll add vanilla to almost anything sweet- even a glass of warm milk. Ideally served with cookies with a distinct vanilla taste.

    Reply

  6. 106
    Lisa
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    And I’m a facebook fan!!

    Reply

  7. 107
    Lisa
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Vanilla Sugar Cookies

    Reply

  8. 108
    Lisa
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I follow you on FB

    Reply

  9. 109
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    My fave recipe is vanilla buttercream : )

    Reply

  10. 110
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I already like you on FB

    Reply

  11. 111
    Emily
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    my favorite vanilla recipe is my mom’s vanilla sugar cookies :)

    Reply

  12. 112
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I follow you already on Twitter and tweeted with Apples2Zucchini

    Reply

  13. 113
    Heather
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I love vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  14. 114
    Laura
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Vanilla bean pudding. :)

    Reply

  15. 115
    Kayce
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Vanilla buttercream!!!!

    Reply

  16. 116
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Simple vanilla bean ice cream, preferably with enough vanilla in it you can smell it across the room!

    Reply

  17. 117
    Sarah
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Vanilla peach jam! I still have a jar or two in my pantry from this summer’s fresh peach picking and canning adventure!

    Reply

  18. 118
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Pan-roasted Duck Breast with Cherry-Vanilla Bean reduction…sweet and savory – oh so delicious!

    Reply

  19. 119
    katelyn
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Hi! I am a new reader, and my favorite vanilla recipe would have to be vanilla pudding.

    Reply

  20. 120
    Karen
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    I love Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

    Reply

  21. 121
    Anna Mkhikian
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    My favorite recipe featuring vanilla beans is probably the vanilla bean frosting on your rich chocolate cupcakes, I use it for all sorts of different cupcakes and it’s always delicious.

    Reply

  22. 122
    Anna Mkhikian
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I’m a fan on facebook!

    Reply

  23. 123
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Definitely vanilla bean ice cream (which seems to be popular from the comments.) It’s simple but, gosh, is it delicious. If I win, maybe I will use my beans to make some homemade!!

    come enter my NIVEA giveaway: http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com

    Reply

  24. 124
    sarah b.
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    it may be boring, but i love vanilla pudding. basic, but delicious! and makes a great pie filling.

    Reply

  25. 125
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I have a recipe for a mixed berry fruit salad with a homemade vanilla syrup – the syrup turns the fruit salad into something extra special

    Reply

  26. 126
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    And following you on twitter (booksncooks2)

    Reply

  27. 127
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    vanilla bean marshmallows…. mmm! :)

    Reply

  28. 128
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I love homemade creme brulee! I always have vanilla beans on hand when I have a craving for some!

    Reply

  29. 129
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I’m already a fan on Facebook!

    Reply

  30. 130
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I’m a follower on Twitter and tweeted! http://twitter.com/mamatojj/status/22456095427530753

    Reply

  31. 131
    Jennifer
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Vanilla sugar cookies!

    Reply

  32. 132
    Kristyn
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    chocolate chip cookies with Mexican vanilla xD

    Reply

  33. 133
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    This might sound strange, but my favorite way to use vanilla is to make snow cream in the winter! It reminds me of when I was a kid ;-)

    Reply

  34. 134
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I tweeted!!

    Reply

  35. 135
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    And I am, of course, a FB fan ;-)

    Reply

  36. 136
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I love this idea! My favorite vanilla recipe is a delicious vanilla cupcake. yum :)

    Reply

  37. 137
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Can it be as simple as a vanilla steamer or vanilla whipped cream? It has to be those two things. Simple is best.

    Cheers and happy new year,

    *heather*

    Reply

  38. 138
    Kayce
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I liked you on Facebook.

    Reply

  39. 139
    jan
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    creme brulee… YUM!

    Reply

  40. 140
    Maureen
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I love the Zucchini bread that I make that calls for 5 tablespoons of vanilla in it. So so good.

    Reply

  41. 141
    mende
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    mine would have to be vanilla bean ice cream!

    Reply

  42. 142
    Marie
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Flan with vanilla beans. So is that just Vanilla Flan? xD

    Reply

  43. 143
    mende
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I also like you on facebook

    Reply

  44. 144
    HeatherDiane
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    My favorite is vanilla buttercream. So good I would probably just eat it with a spoon. Or spatula. Or finger….

    Reply

  45. 145
    HeatherDiane
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    And I retweeted the giveaway!

    Reply

  46. 146
    HeatherDiane
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    And I’m a fan on Facebook! :)

    Reply

  47. 147
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Vanilla bean ice cream!! Heaven.

    Reply

  48. 148
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Homemade vanilla ice cream. So simple and so decadent!

    Reply

  49. 149
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I tweeted!

    Reply

  50. 150
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I like you on FB!

    Reply

  51. 151
    Lisa T.
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I have to say a vanilla bean creme burlee.

    Reply

  52. 152
    Lisa T.
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I like you on Facebook.

    Reply

  53. 153
    Cathy Hodge Smith
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    My mother’s recipe for VANILLA BREADPUDDING with VANILLA HARD SAUCE is my all time favorite for VANILLA NIRVANA. My husband would be so thrilled if I were to make my own VANILLA extract since he is shocked by how much I use regularly. I use it in savory recipes that don’t even call for it because it adds an intriguing dimension. BTW, I already am a FB fan!

    Reply

  54. 154
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe has to be just a simple vanilla creme brulee!

    Reply

  55. 155
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I tweeted!

    Reply

  56. 156
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    And I already Like you on Facebook!

    Reply

  57. 157
    Rachel
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Can I have two favorites? I make a lemon-vanilla buttercream frosting that is to.die.for. I also love vanilla pound cake. So much that I can’t make it because I would eat it all. :)

    Reply

  58. 158
    Rachel
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I’m a fan on facebook!

    Reply

  59. 159
    Jennifer
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  60. 160
    Louise
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    homemade vanilla bean ice cream plain and unadulterated – oh yum!

    Reply

  61. 161
    Louise
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I am a Facebook fan

    Reply

  62. 162
    Ivy
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    May absolute fav vanilla recipe is homemade marshmallow!!

    Reply

  63. 163
    jenna m
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I love to make homemade vanilla bean icecream on the 4th of July!

    Reply

  64. 164
    Alyse
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    homemade vanilla ice cream

    Reply

  65. 165
    Amanda Thompson
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I love cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting.

    Reply

  66. 166
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Vanilla bean ice cream. I always choose it over chocolate.

    Reply

  67. 167
    Sharryn
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Fluffy tapioca pudding. Wouldn’t it be fun to make three batches, flavor each with a different vanilla, and then have a tasting party???

    Reply

  68. 168
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Pumpkin Vanilla Bean ice cream. Though I’ve been itching to try a savory vanilla bean risotto.

    Reply

  69. 169
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    I love sugar-free vanilla lattes and vanilla ricotta pudding!

    Reply

  70. 170
    Mary Sangster
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    the best is really simple, fresh vanilla bean ice cream. With or without some sort of rich and lucious sauce! Yum. :)

    Reply

  71. 171
    Mary Sangster
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I’m also a facebook fan!!

    Reply

  72. 172
    Emily
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Vanilla in my hot chocolate of course!

    Reply

  73. 173
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe is vanilla custard! I use it to make banana cream pie, or I just eat it plain like a pudding. sooo good.

    ps that is a great gift idea! I did cranberry and lime infused vodka for gifts this year and they only needed a little over 2 weeks to steep. Maybe i’ll get started early with this gift

    Reply

  74. 174
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Your vanilla sounds amazing – can’t wait to try this and I love your labels. What an excellent gift idea! My favorite vanilla recipe has to be Giada de Laurentiis’ “Vanilla Bean and Butternut Squash Risotto.” I was skeptical about including a vanilla bean in risotto but it came out beautifully.

    Reply

  75. 175
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I love vanilla. My favorite recipe would be vanilla bean ice cream. Can’t go wrong with a classic simple recipe.

    Reply

  76. 176
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I follow you on FB!

    Reply

  77. 177
    Sarah
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Vanilla creme brulee! I “like” your facebook page : )

    Reply

  78. 178
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I’m a fan on Facebook!

    Reply

  79. 179
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    It’s not exactly a recipe but my all time favorite use of vanilla extract was one my great grandmother used during WWI, a dab behind each ear just before a date with her sweetie du jour.

    Reply

  80. 180
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I posted on Twitter too I’m @Fettbot

    Reply

  81. 181
    Randy
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Vanilla pudding is my favorite vanilla recipe. Just found your blog, will now begin to search for recipes.

    Reply

  82. 182
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I love vanilla in stovetop hot chocolate with a dash of cinnamon and baileys :-)

    Reply

  83. 183
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    now a facebook fan :) (previously just a google reader fan)

    Reply

  84. 184
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Tweeted the giveaway here: http://twitter.com/Clock_workLemon

    Reply

  85. 185
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I’m a fan on facebook!

    Reply

  86. 186
    moonsword
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    My grandma’s recipe for Italian rainbow cookies.

    Reply

  87. 187
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Mmm- French Vanilla Creme Brulee – so delicious!

    Reply

  88. 188
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I am now a follower on twitter! Thanks- so excited :)

    Reply

  89. 189
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    …and a fan on facebook :)

    Reply

  90. 190
    Mars
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Here’s a haiku of my favourite vanilla recipe! Thanks for the extract recipe, awesome.

    Vanilla bean meringues
    Crisp outside, gooey sweet centre
    Flecked with precious black

    Reply

  91. 191
    Maria
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    My mom’s banana bread with vanilla – it really makes it better.

    Reply

  92. 192
    ashley
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    vanilla buttercream

    Reply

  93. 193
    Kayla
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    A couple of my favourite uses of vanilla are in yogurt sweetened with honey as a snack, even better with some fresh peaches mixed in and in London Fogs. Mmm.

    Reply

  94. 194
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    vanilla makes anything taste good!!! I love it in my oatmeal, coffee, everything…but theres nothing like home made chocolate chip cookies made with extra special vanilla!

    Reply

  95. 195
    Cheryl
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Good vanilla buttercream frosting on thick, chewy vanilla sugar cookies!
    I am also a Facebook Fan!

    Reply

  96. 196
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Vanilla pound cake with caramelized bananas on top and a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  97. 197
    Amy
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Chocoflan or Pastel Impossible – a delicious Mexican dessert comprised of chocolate cake baked with a caramel custard.

    http://www.rickbayless.com/recipe/view?recipeID=57

    Reply

  98. 198
    Amy
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    I follow you on Twitter, and I tweeted (http://twitter.com/neverdene/status/22508231779680256).

    Reply

  99. 199
    Amy
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I like your blog on Facebook (A. Mace).

    Reply

  100. 200
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Homemade vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

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