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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. 201
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Vanilla is the NEW chocolate in my house right now! I have a bunch of recipe’s I’ve been trying out, and have to say panna cotta is my new favorite! It’s so simple, yet so amazing!

    Reply

  2. 202
    Kate
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I love making whipped cream for strawberry shortcake – heavy cream, vanilla extract and sugar. Amazing every time!

    Reply

  3. 203
    Kate
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    I also follow on Twitter and Facebook!

    Reply

  4. 204
    Jena
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I think I’d have to say creme brulee is currently my favorite vanilla recipe.

    Reply

  5. 205
    Jessica Anne
    Posted On January 4, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Vanilla creme brulee with raspberries!

    Reply

  6. 206
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:02 am

    What a cleaver and inventive idea – just love it! Your photo is beautiful. My favorite vanilla recipe is classic creme brulee using the vanilla bean. The richness of the flavors so shines through.

    Reply

  7. 207
    Granny Sandy
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Homemade creamy vanilla bean icecream.

    Reply

  8. 208
    Emily
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I love to make Joy of Cooking’s Waffle recipe (with two sticks of butter!!) and add a teaspoon and a half or so of organic vanilla extract– it adds a whole other layer of flavor to an already delicious recipe.

    Reply

  9. 209
    David P. Swindler
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I made a large batch of vanilla extract 2 years ago, giving most of it away as Christmas gifts. Usually, I’ll finish up tapioca pudding with a capful of vanilla extract.

    Reply

  10. 210
    Emily
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:22 am
  11. 211
    Emily
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:22 am

    And I’m a fan on Facebook :)

    Reply

  12. 212
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Homemade vanilla bean ice cream is hard to top

    Reply

  13. 213
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Now I’m a fan on facebook too.

    Reply

  14. 214
    Katie
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:58 am

    vanilla custard

    Reply

  15. 215
    Katie
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:59 am

    fan on facebook :)

    Reply

  16. 216
    Tracey S
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Vanilla french toast!

    Reply

  17. 217
    Lindsey
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 1:32 am

    I’m a fbook fan!

    Reply

  18. 218
    caitlin
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 1:33 am

    vanilla bean scones

    Reply

  19. 219
    Lindsey
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 1:33 am

    My favorite vanilla recipe is: EVERYTHING! I use vanilla extract or paste several times a day. I splash some in my smoothie, pour a little on top of creamy squash soup….it goes into everything! :)

    Reply

  20. 220
    Lisa Gilmore
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 3:07 am

    Vanilla Belgian Waffles!!! Topped with vanilla whipped cream and fresh strawberries! Oh, so yummy!

    Reply

  21. 221
    Lisa Gilmore
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 3:11 am

    I already like Love & Olive Oil on Facebook!!

    Reply

  22. 222
    Sharon Limb
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 4:59 am

    Vanilla bubble Milk Tea is the best :-)

    Reply

  23. 223
    Jess :)
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Standard tollhouse chocolate chip cookies was my first brush with vanilla, and since then we have been inseparable.

    Reply

  24. 224
    Jess :)
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 5:34 am

    I also follow you guys on facebook!!

    Reply

  25. 225
    astheroshe
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Vanilla Bean ice cream. I love the simplicity of it.

    Reply

  26. 226
    Jenny
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 6:18 am

    It’s gotta be the ce cream!

    Reply

  27. 227
    Leslye E
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 6:47 am

    Vanilla bean icecream with a drizzle of honey

    Reply

  28. 228
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 6:52 am

    I love vanilla and make my own extract as well! I love to use vanilla in almost anything I can, including my favorite vanilla cupcakes with vanilla bean caramel buttercream!

    Reply

  29. 229
    Jade
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:12 am

    All time-favorite? My favorites change pretty often … so I’d say my favorite for now is vanilla pastry cream. I could just eat that stuff with a spoon (and I have ;) )

    Reply

  30. 230
    Tania Bugnet
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:47 am

    My fave vanilla recipe would be for vanilla bean creme brulee. Mmmmm mmmmm. Love it.

    Reply

  31. 231
    Tania Bugnet
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I “like” you on Facebook.

    Reply

  32. 232
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I generally put double the vanilla in any recipe vanilla is called for :) Cupcakes especially!

    I love your labels!! My mom makes all my vanilla and I’ve been wanting to have her do a tutorial for a long time. Yours are so pretty :)

    Reply

  33. 233
    Tania Bugnet
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I am following Love and Olive Oil on twitter (tjbugnet) and I tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/tjbugnet/status/22634879678152704

    Reply

  34. 234
    Beccs
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I like vanilla so many ways! But a favorite is vanilla french toast

    Reply

  35. 235
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Favorite recipe ever: Mixed Fruit Vanilla Cake – it’s a fruitcake, but instead of candied fruit, this one uses dried fruits, including cranberries, cherries, strawberries and blueberries plus vanilla!

    Reply

  36. 236
    Cristina B
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:57 am

    I love vanilla bean ice cream!

    Reply

  37. 237
    Cristina B
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I am a fan on facebook.

    Reply

  38. 238
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:58 am

    yummy, creme brule is my fav!

    Reply

  39. 239
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I love good vanilla ice cream.

    Reply

  40. 240
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I am “LIKE” you on FB.

    Reply

  41. 241
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:08 am

    this post is making so hungry for something yummy! i love homemade vanilla bean ice cream. so glad to find this bean source and a chance to win! thank you!

    Reply

  42. 242
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:08 am

    also i am a facebook fan of yours!

    Reply

  43. 243
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:10 am

    I think my fave is vanilla buttercream. Sooo good!

    Reply

  44. 244
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I tweeted the giveaway!

    Reply

  45. 245
    Kristen
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:21 am

    vanilla anything….ice cream, lattes…love it all!

    Reply

  46. 246
    jg
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Vanilla sugar just makes everything better.

    Reply

  47. 247
    Jordan
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:28 am

    favorite vanilla recipe would have to be the caramel sauce i made last halloween. mmm. and i’m almost out of vanilla so it’s nice to have a chance to win some. :) thanks!

    Reply

  48. 248
    Jordan
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:29 am

    i tweeted (@jayemkae)

    Reply

  49. 249
    Jordan
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:29 am

    and i’m a fan on facebook too!

    Reply

  50. 250
    Jenny
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Vanilla pastry cream. Just try not to eat it with a spoon.

    Reply

  51. 251
    Lynn BB
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:38 am

    The classic, vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  52. 252
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:03 am

    My favorite way to use vanilla is to make vanilla sugar.

    Reply

  53. 253
    Ace
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:11 am

    My favorite vanilla recipe is David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream. it’s super vanilla-y and is like a dream from when I was a kid. fantabulous.

    Reply

  54. 254
    Ace
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:11 am

    oh and i’m a fan on facebook.

    Reply

  55. 255
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I think my favorite is just simple warm vanilla milk. It’s so good and comforting.

    Reply

  56. 256
    Mollie
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Vanilla ice cream – so many uses!

    Reply

  57. 257
    Lindsay L.
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:21 am

    MMMM, creme brulee.

    Reply

  58. 258
    Michele
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:24 am

    vanilla bean cheesecake!!

    Reply

  59. 259
    Pat R
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I bake for my son’s restaurant and my favorite item that contains vanilla is a glazed coconut pound cake……….takes lots of vanila extract, my favorite flavor of all time. I make homemade vanilla bean ice cream for my grandbabies………they love it and so do I ! Thanks for the recipe. Love your blog.

    Reply

  60. 260
    Michele
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:28 am
  61. 261
    christine yoo
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:29 am

    creme brulee hands down!!

    Reply

  62. 262
    Michele
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:29 am

    didn’t realize you had a FB page, I liked it :)

    Reply

  63. 263
    Kelly
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I love using vanilla bean to make vanilla ice cream. thanks for the posting – I hope to do this!

    Reply

  64. 264
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:55 am

    What a lovely idea! I am going to HAVE to try it. My favorite vanilla recipe, or one of them, is simply making vanilla flavored sugar. I give it away as little hostess gifts, and it’s always a hit. :)

    Reply

  65. 265
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I love chocolate brownies with home made vanilla ice cream on top! Yum! :)

    I’m also a fan of Love & Olive Oil on Facebook.

    Reply

  66. 266
    Debbi R
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:58 am

    The vanilla pudding for homemade Banana Pudding

    Reply

  67. 267
    Debbi R
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Liked you on Facebook

    Reply

  68. 268
    Christopher Sorel
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I love vanilla shortbread

    Reply

  69. 269
    Christopher Sorel
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Love & Olive Oil on Facebook

    Reply

  70. 270
    Erin R
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Vanilla bean ice cream – the first time I used a real vanilla bean! mmmmm!

    Reply

  71. 271
    Christopher Sorel
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:40 am
  72. 272
    Amanda
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:42 am

    By far, my favorite vanilla use is in homemade creme fraiche & vanilla bean scones. They are so simple, but SOO good. I make the creme fraiche myself (it’s so easy!), then scrape out a vanilla bean into the scone batter. I’m happy to share the recipe! As a scone connoisseur, I can safely say they are some of the best ever. / Thanks for such a fun giveaway!

    Reply

  73. 273
    Janet
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:00 am

    My favorite use of vanilla these days is in a homemade vanilla latte – steamed milk, strong coffee, and vanilla extract. Yummy!

    Reply

  74. 274
    Jenna
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:09 am

    This is going to be odd but chocolate chip cookies. I have this recipe that the vanilla really is the star.

    Reply

  75. 275
    Jenna
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I so just tweeted right now.

    Reply

  76. 276
    Holly
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:21 am

    My favorite vanilla recipe is petite vanilla scones. Similar to the ones you can buy at Starbucks. Yum!

    Reply

  77. 277
    Holly
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:23 am
  78. 278
    Margaret Barry
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Lately i have been putting vanilla in steel cut oats for breakfast…delicious!

    Reply

  79. 279
    Margaret Barry
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I am a fan on facebook.

    Reply

  80. 280
    Jenn in Tenn
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I love vanilla anything! Especially love adding it to my egg mixture when making french toast! Now off to facebook! ;-)

    Reply

  81. 281
    Sue C.
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Love to make vanilla ice cream!!

    Reply

  82. 282
    Jessica B.
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

    The deliciousness that is vanilla bean cheesecake. So decadent and rich but lighter than normal cheesecake and just that pure vanilla taste. YUM.

    Reply

  83. 283
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Not too original, but homemade vanilla ice cream…. yum.

    Reply

  84. 284
    Julia
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    My daughter’s vanilla buttercream frosting.

    Reply

  85. 285
    Julia
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I also follow you on facebook. :)

    Reply

  86. 286
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Vanilla pudding. There’s nothing like homemade pudding, warm and straight from the pot!

    Reply

  87. 287
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I’m also a fan on facebook!

    Reply

  88. 288
    Anne
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Vanilla bean ice cream!

    I have been meaning to make my own extract for awhile – thanks for the suggestion on where to buy the beans. I will get it started this month!

    Reply

  89. 289
    Devon
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Vanilla ice cream, a classic!

    Reply

  90. 290
    Cara
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Vanilla Creme Brulee!

    Reply

  91. 291
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I really love shortbread and vanilla ice cream.

    Reply

  92. 292
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    My daughters and I love vanilla ice cream, my husband love the vanilla sugar I make.

    Reply

  93. 293
    Jodi
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Vanilla sugar — which I then use for just about EVERYTHING: cookies, in my coffee/tea, cakes, etc.

    Reply

  94. 294
    Jodi
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I’m a Facebook fan!

    Reply

  95. 295
    Lisa
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    My favorite is a really good, simple vanilla cupcake.

    Reply

  96. 296
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I work at a coffee shop so I start out my day making myself a vanilla latte. We make our own vanilla syrup with good vanilla extract and simple syrup.

    Reply

  97. 297
    Monica McPherrin
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    You can never go wrong with classic vanilla cupcakes!

    Reply

  98. 298
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    So excited about making my own Vanilla Extract! Do you have a favorite bean??

    My fave vanilla recipe of all time is my grandmother’s vanilla sauce. It’s not caramelized; just a gorgeous creamy white vanilla infused sweetness that is perfect over fruit pies and cobblers. ( I eat it by the spoonful!)

    Reply

  99. 299
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    And tweeted!

    Reply

  100. 300
    Jennifer
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe is homemade vanilla ice cream! Looking forward to summer now! Maybe it will snow enough here in TN so that we can make snow cream, but I can’t count on that!

    Reply

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