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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. 301
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    And liked on FB! :)

    Reply

  2. 302
    Jennifer
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    And tweeted also!

    Reply

  3. 303
    Jennifer
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    And like on FB too! :)

    Reply

  4. 304
    Jeanne
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    My favorite vanilla is from Mexico, but I can’t wait to try making my own. I do follow you on Facebook as well.

    Reply

  5. 305
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Yay finally an international giveaway, sometimes it seems Canada is so close to the US but yet so far away :)

    Reply

  6. 306
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    What a sweet and thoughtful gift…something I’m sure any baker would just adore! I love your labels, they’re adorable!

    Reply

  7. 307
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Vanilla bean cheesecake is amazing! This is a great giveaway. Thanks for sharing! I’m also going to try making my own vanilla…great idea!

    Reply

  8. 308
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Vanilla cookies!

    Reply

  9. 309
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Tweeted! @freestuffploxx

    Reply

  10. 310
    Lorraine
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I love alot of vanilla in my crepes that I make:)

    Reply

  11. 311
    Megan
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I love making rice pudding with lots of vanilla!

    Reply

  12. 312
    Amanda
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Homemade vanilla creme brulee! And where did you get the labels for the jars? They are adorable!

    Reply

  13. 313
    Lauren
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I’ve been itching to make vanilla extract for a long time! I’m a big baker and I love using quality vanilla extract in all of my recipes!

    Reply

  14. 314
    Tiffany
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 3:43 pm
  15. 315
    Leslye E
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Facebook fan as well!

    Reply

  16. 316
    Pyrogrrrl
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    vanilla meringue cookies, so simple and delicious!

    Reply

  17. 317
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Vainilla ice cream with macadamia nuts!!!!!
    Gourmenderies

    Reply

  18. 318
    Erin S.
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    vanilla bean creme brulee!! mmm!

    Reply

  19. 319
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Vanilla bean ice cream! Mmmmm

    Reply

  20. 320
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Posted on Twitter!

    Reply

  21. 321
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Like you on FB. Can’t believe I hadn’t done so earlier. Better late than never, eh?!

    Reply

  22. 322
    Rufus
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Creme Brulee, particularly if someone less cack-handed than me in the kitchen has made it!

    Reply

  23. 323
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Vanilla Steamer: Milk vanilla and Splenda :) super yum
    Already Like you on Facebook and tweeted :)

    Reply

  24. 324
    Sandi
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    My favorite use of vanilla is in my mother’s pound cake!

    Reply

  25. 325
    Laurel
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    A basic vanilla cupcake. Its a great test of a bakery/baker if they are moist and fluffy. Not as easy as it sounds.

    Reply

  26. 326
    Danielle
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I love Creme Brulee and vanilla bean ice cream!!!!!!

    Reply

  27. 327
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Today my favorite vanilla recipe is vanilla marshmallows. I just made a batch and the vanilla flavor is just so amazing. Dang it…now I want more marshmallows! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Reply

  28. 328
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    love, love, LOVE Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Does it get any better?? It’s perfect by itself or with any sauce or topping!

    Reply

  29. 329
    Ashley
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe (so far) is tapioca pudding, but I’m intrigued by a lot of these posts! Yum.

    Reply

  30. 330
    Ashley
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I’m already a fan on facebook.

    Reply

  31. 331
    Carrie
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    croissant bread pudding.

    Reply

  32. 332
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I love Vanilla Frosting on Chocolate Cake.

    Reply

  33. 333
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Creme Brulee! Mmmm.

    Reply

  34. 334
    Patricia
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    I love vanilla bean ice cream.

    Reply

  35. 335
    Frances Martel
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate mousse frosting and rainbow sprinkles!

    Reply

  36. 336
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Any kind of vanilla custard that can be eaten alone, paired with berries or anything else. Mmh.

    Reply

  37. 337
    JoCarol
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    I love simmering vanilla and cloves on the stove…not quite a recipe but it is still my favorite use of vanilla in the kitchen!

    Reply

  38. 338
    JoCarol
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    I tweeted the message.

    Reply

  39. 339
    JoCarol
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    And I liked you on facebook.

    Reply

  40. 340
    Vicki
    Posted On January 5, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Hands down…vanilla ice cream!!

    Reply

  41. 341
    lilpiptook
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 1:55 am

    wow! thanks for sharing the website for those plastic bottles. I have some homemade vanilla extract and vanilla sugar and want to give it away for the next holiday season, but no way to package it. Thanks for the links :)

    i think my #1 favorite vanilla recipe is for vanilla extract. so cool, like a science experiment in my kitchen :D

    Reply

  42. 342
    katie
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 1:56 am

    My all time favorite vanilla recipe is one i can’t have! there is a cupcakery called Sift where I live and their Vanilla cupcakes (with cinnamon cream cheese icing) are to die for!!! They are seriously giong to be a problem with my new years resolution ;)

    Reply

  43. 343
    phoebe
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:46 am

    i’d have to say that my all time favorite vanilla recipe is vanilla bean scones!!:)

    Reply

  44. 344
    phoebe
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:48 am

    and i’m a facebook fan!!:)

    Reply

  45. 345
    Melissa
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I love Home Made vanilla bean ice cream.

    Reply

  46. 346
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 8:46 am

    My favorite vanilla recipe is a Vanilla Bean Martini (check it out on my blog). Pretty easy since I make my own vanilla with vodka anyway, and a dab of Godiva Liquor or peppermint extract makes it a perfect holiday drink!

    Reply

  47. 347
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I’m already a FB fan!

    Reply

  48. 348
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 8:57 am

    And I Tweeted you!

    Reply

  49. 349
    amy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

    simple sugar cookies with vanilla! but everyone else’s ideas are so lovely…now i’d like to make vanilla anything.

    Reply

  50. 350
    Brent
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:16 am

    if i won some beans, I’ll come up with a favorite.

    Reply

  51. 351
    Maddie
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I made homemade butterscotch pudding with vanilla once, it was great.

    Reply

  52. 352
    Maddie
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I also like you on Facebook :)

    Reply

  53. 353
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Vanilla bean ice cream! And I’ve decided to buy an ice cream maker this year, so I will finally be able to make my own :)

    Reply

  54. 354
    hleure
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Thanks for posting this! I meant to do this for Christmas this year, but changed my mind because I wasn’t sure I felt good about shipping glass bottles with my precious vanilla extract across the country. I love making ice cream using fun kinds of vanilla extract.

    Reply

  55. 355
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I’m also making my own vanilla extract..started just around Thanksgiving so that it’ll be ready with plenty of time to package before the holidays (and for all my holiday baking). I just checked it the other day, and it’s already getting that deep amber color.. http://thinktran.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/vanilla-liquor-homemade-extract/

    My favorite vanilla recipe is probably vanilla bean icecream. I love the little flecks of vanilla.

    Reply

  56. 356
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Also.. I’m following you on Twitter and retweeted: @thinktran

    Reply

  57. 357
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    AND… i’m a fan on FB (Namtran Nguyen)

    Reply

  58. 358
    Karin Clark
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I’m too busy baking to be a facebooker or tweeter, sorry.
    My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is the best because it has 2 Tablespoons of vanilla in one batch. Oh sooo delicious.
    I would love to know which of the three beans you preferred for your homemade extract. Please share =) I absolutely loooove this idea, thanks for sharing it!

    Reply

  59. 359
    Claire
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Favorite Vanilla Recipe- Martha Stewart’s Sugar Cookies II

    Reply

  60. 360
    Amanda J.
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    My favorite, often made, vanilla recipe is homemade whipped cream. So simple, but so easy to whip together some heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar (it blends in more nicely and doesn’t cause graininess), and vanilla.

    Reply

  61. 361
    Amanda J.
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I tweeted for a bonus entry! Thank You.

    Reply

  62. 362
    Amanda J.
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I just liked you on Facebook! Thanks for the bonus entry.

    Reply

  63. 363
    Debbie
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe is for a vanilla pound cake that my Grandmother always made when we were kids. She also made a glaze with vanilla beans that she poured over the warm cake so it soaked it up.
    Wow..that cake was great!

    Reply

  64. 364
    Natalie
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Vanilla buttercream frosting :) deeeeeelish!!!!

    Reply

  65. 365
    Natalie
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm
  66. 366
    Natalie
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    A fan on Facebook :)

    Reply

  67. 367
    Gail Garrison
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I love to use only pure vanilla extract (now that I have a recipe I will use this) to make my homemade Chocolate Eclairs. I make a custard to go inside the pastry puffs that I also make myself. Yummo!

    Reply

  68. 368
    Bridgitte
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Absolutely great Idea! can’t wait to make it!

    Reply

  69. 369
    Andrea
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Apple dip – cream cheese, brown sugar and lots of vanilla!

    Reply

  70. 370
    Laura
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Fantastic gift idea!! This and limoncello are (now) on my list of gifts I need to start preparing several months ahead of time.
    My favorite vanilla recipe is cream cheese ice cream – with vanilla obviously ;)

    Reply

  71. 371
    Nancy Stymacks
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Facebook Follower!

    Reply

  72. 372
    Jada Edwards
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I would have to say my vanilla sugar cookies, that I make and decorate anytime of the year! I also add double the vanilla! :)

    Reply

  73. 373
    AlaskanWindsong
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I LOVE and miss my great, great Aunt Lela’s homemade vanilla/butter pound cake. Have never tasted anything like, since then. Am in search of an old fashioned recipe for such. I also now follow you on FB – glad I found you! I love to cook and used to own my own restaurant. The homemade extract is a wonderful idea!!

    Reply

  74. 374
    Susan
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    My favorite recipe using vanilla is Homemade Kahlua.

    Reply

  75. 375
    nicole fitzgerald
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Chocolate chip muffins and homemade vanillia pudding!

    Reply

  76. 376
    Diane Baker
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Vanilla sugar! and I Iove the recipe for homemade vanilla extract….can’t wait to try it!

    Reply

  77. 377
    Stacey
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I would have to agree with Beth!! Vanilla in snow ice cream during the long winter months :)

    Reply

  78. 378
    Donna Coder
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I love vanilla custard and Creme Brulee.

    Reply

  79. 379
    Kathy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    My absolute favorite recipe for using vanilla is my seven minute boiled frosting. It is a family favorite and always requested.

    Reply

  80. 380
    Sam Jones
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Vanilla Almond Crescent cookies…vanilla in the dough, and they are dipped in vanilla sugar after. YUM!

    Reply

  81. 381
    Deborah
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    My favorite Vanilla recipe is my Grandmother’s pound cake recipe!

    Reply

  82. 382
    Renee Rogers
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Homemade Vanilla Snow Ice Cream….
    Just take clean fresh snow and add milk, sugar, vanilla and freeze till solid. Eat. YUMMSY~~~

    Reply

  83. 383
    Sheila
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    My favourite is hot milk with a shot of vanilla in it. Nice and relaxing just before bed.

    Reply

  84. 384
    Renee Rogers
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    P.S. I should win because Jan 4th was my birthday~! ~^.^~

    Reply

  85. 385
    judy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    I love adding vanilla to no bake turtle cookies

    Reply

  86. 386
    Heidi
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    My favorite vanilla reicpe is a vanilla cake I make for my son’s birthdays. It is so moist and delicious.

    Reply

  87. 387
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Homemade banana pudding! I just found your blog today via facebook and I LOVE it!!Can`t wait to read more!!

    Reply

  88. 388
    Susan
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    vanilla ice cream. My Mom’s old recipe is the best.

    Reply

  89. 389
    Jen G
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Warm Vanilla pudding :)

    Reply

  90. 390
    Jayme
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I love vanilla bean ice cream and extra vanilla in sugar cookies. Oh YUM!

    Reply

  91. 391
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    a vanilla cake :)

    Reply

  92. 392
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    vanilla… fav. recipe.. wow… that is tuff! i am a huge fan of the smell and taste! Vanilla chai, vanilla icing… you name it – and everything in between!

    Reply

  93. 393
    Cathy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe: Vanillekipferl- little vanilla horns. A traditional German recipe. You can’t do better than this at Christmastime.

    Reply

  94. 394
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    my favorite vanilla recipe is homemade cream soda.

    Reply

  95. 395
    Lisa
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Homemade Vanilla Pound Cake

    Reply

  96. 396
    amy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Shortbread.. love it’s vanilla creaminess!

    Reply

  97. 397
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I’m following you on twitter and I twitted : http://twitter.com/#!/thescorpiowoman/status/23101182289387521

    Reply

  98. 398
    Elizabeth
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Homemade vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  99. 399
    Jessica H.
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Vanilla bean ice cream!!!!

    Reply

  100. 400
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I’m now a fan of Love and Olive Oil on Facebook. I’m France Perron

    Reply

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