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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. 401
    Dawn
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Can’t wait to make these, I use vanilla all the time. What a wonderful site you have here, looking forward to future post and tweets and newsletters!

    Reply

  2. 402
    tati
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    White Brownies!!
    So yummy.

    Reply

  3. 403
    christa
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Ice cream!

    Reply

  4. 404
    Marsha Carsner
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I have yet to find a good source for vanilla beans that doesn’t break the bank. Any suggestions?

    My favorite vanilla recipe is vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. yum!

    Reply

  5. 405
    Susan
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Vanilla bean creme brulee!

    Reply

  6. 406
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    My Fav Recipe to make with Beanilla Beans is def Ice Cream….makes the best ice cream ever!

    Reply

  7. 407
    Christine Schrodt
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    My absolute favorite vanilla recipe has to be vanilla buttercream icing. I’ve been making it ever since I was a little girl. No store-bought icing can compare!

    Reply

  8. 408
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Tweeted it!

    Reply

  9. 409
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    And def like you on FB! LOL

    Reply

  10. 410
    CJ
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Vanilla Pound Cake!

    Reply

  11. 411
    Tammy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I recently made a coffee liqueur, which called for vanilla bean. It was delish. Had to wait for 6 weeks while it steeped, but it was worth it!

    Reply

  12. 412
    Toni Kramer-Behnke
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Love, love, love my vanilla!! Too many uses to choose a favorite! My daughter loves when I make vanilla bean sugar, homemade vanilla bean ice cream ~ the old fashioned way, my Grandma’s vanilla custard or Grammies Cold Oven Pound Cake!!! Mmmm, Yummy!!

    Reply

  13. 413
    Susan
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I liked Love & OO on FB as well!

    Reply

  14. 414
    Carla
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Homemade vanilla ICE CREAM!!! Yummo!

    Reply

  15. 415
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I love vanilla bean and Cinnamon bread pudding!

    Reply

  16. 416
    tcmaryf
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    My fav vanilla recipe is vanilla coffee or tea. Simple, just sprinkile extract on your coffee grinds when you put them in your coffee maker or sprinkle on ypour tea leaves all before you brew. Delish, but we drink lots of coffee so go thru la lot of extract. Thnx for this recipe as I would prefer to make my own extract rather than buy it.

    Reply

  17. 417
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I love to make a vanilla custard for my cream puffs.

    Reply

  18. 418
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I can not WAIT to try making my own vanilla!!
    My favorite vanilla recipe is creme brulee (but really-anything with vanilla in it is a winner with me!!)

    Reply

  19. 419
    Nina
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    My favorite is vanilla ice cream. YUMMY!!

    Reply

  20. 420
    Melissa
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Homemade vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  21. 421
    rebecca
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    love every thing sweet with vanilla, there all my favorites

    Reply

  22. 422
    Crystal Jo
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I just made a wonder custard based ice cream with fresh vanilla. It tastes just like Butter pecan ice cream without the pecans. YUMMY!

    Reply

  23. 423
    Melissa
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I’m also a fan on facebook.

    Reply

  24. 424
    Toni Kramer-Behnke
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    FaceBook fan also!!

    Reply

  25. 425
    Bethany
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Vanilla pudding. I finally got my mom’s recipe. She always used to make it Sundays when I was little. Love it!! Nothing else comes close!

    Reply

  26. 426
    Heather
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Apple crisp using fresh vanilla beans! I’ve made lots of apple crisp, but the one recipe I followed that used fresh vanilla beans was the absolutely best!

    Reply

  27. 427
    Aundraya
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Giant Spice Cookies, I’m also a fan on facebook.

    Reply

  28. 428
    Crystal Jo
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I am a facebook follower!

    Reply

  29. 429
    Heather
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Ohhhh…and just became a fan on FB! Love it!

    Reply

  30. 430
    Jeanne spaur
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I think this is going to be my favorite vanilla recipe! My other favorite vanilla recipe is my great-aunt June’s sugar cookie recipe which is a family favorite and Christmas tradition.

    Reply

  31. 431
    Karla
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Russian Tea cakes

    Reply

  32. 432
    Donita Walker
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

    Reply

  33. 433
    Nicole
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Vanilla Bean French Toast…YUM!

    Reply

  34. 434
    Jackie Steele
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I love homemade hot fudge sauce which uses vanilla extract.

    Reply

  35. 435
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    My fav vanilla recipe is homemade cherry-vanilla ice cream.

    Reply

  36. 436
    Dian Flora
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I do not have a favorite recipie yet as I have never used vanilla beans, But after taking a look @ your website I’m sure I’m going to find more than one!

    Reply

  37. 437
    Amy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    my favorite is vanilla bean ice cream

    Reply

  38. 438
    Gailanne
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I love vanilla in my coffee in the mornings!

    Reply

  39. 439
    Mary T.
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    This is such a cool idea!! My fave: Vanilla bean ice cream atop peach cobbler!!

    Reply

  40. 440
    marcy s
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Vanilla custard

    Reply

  41. 441
    Gailanne
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    I “Like” Love & Olive Oil on Facebook!

    Reply

  42. 442
    Dawn H
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    My all time fave vanilla recipe is old fashioned Boiled Custard. It’s not unlike Creme Anglaise, though probably not quite as rich. We use it here in the south to pour over vanilla wafers & sliced banana for a homemade Banana Pudding, but I always make extra ’cause I like to sip on some while it’s still warm, then chill whatever might be left for a later treat. Cold, it’s like drinking eggnog…

    Reply

  43. 443
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    I would love to make home made vanilla extract to use in my cupcakes!

    Reply

  44. 444
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Vanilla Creme Brulee with vanilla sugar, I also love vanilla yogurt with homemade granola.

    Reply

  45. 445
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I like you on facebook.

    Reply

  46. 446
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    My favorite is vanilla cream for filling my chocolate cakes.

    Reply

  47. 447
    marcy s
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Follow on fb

    Reply

  48. 448
    Dawn H
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I like you on facebook!

    Reply

  49. 449
    Cindy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Homemade Vanilla Icecream.

    Reply

  50. 450
    Kam A
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Homemade vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  51. 451
    Marcel Hoke-Harvey
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Vanilla sugar to use in Christmas baking.

    Reply

  52. 452
    Nova
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Vanilla ice cream

    Reply

  53. 453
    Kam A
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm
  54. 454
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I love, love, love fresh vanilla homemade ice cream!

    Reply

  55. 455
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    fan on facebook :)

    Reply

  56. 456
    Nicole
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    my fav- homemade vanilla custard ice cream, learned from my ice cream connisseur in-laws yum yum!!!

    Reply

  57. 457
    Nikki
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I love vanilla bean cake! That’s what my wedding cake was and it was delish!

    Reply

  58. 458
    Donna
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Homemade Kahlua. Good for gifts to others. I also “gift” myself some. Yummmm.

    Reply

  59. 459
    Kim P
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    No Bake Cookies! And I would love to try your homemade vanilla in some receipes! It sounds scrumptious.

    Reply

  60. 460
    Elaine Bishop
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    my favorite vanilla recipe would be sugar cookies with pure vanilla and frosting nothing beats fresh vanilla with almonds. thanks

    Reply

  61. 461
    Dora
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I too like Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

    Reply

  62. 462
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I like to add vanilla to boxed cake, cookie or muffin mixes to make them taste more home made.

    Reply

  63. 463
    Diana Gashwiler
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies! Yummy!

    Reply

  64. 464
    Melanie
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    My Spring Breeze Cheesecake. YUM! : )

    Reply

  65. 465
    Diana Gashwiler
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    I like (love) on Facebook!!!!

    Reply

  66. 466
    james green
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    White chocolate breadpudding

    Reply

  67. 467
    Jenni Mason
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Love this idea, always looking for great homemade gifts for Christmas. I think next Christmas just got easier. Thanks

    Reply

  68. 468
    Victoria
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    what a great gift idea! Thanks for the recipe and for a chance to win!

    My all time favorite vanilla recipe?!? Can you believe it? Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.. Yep! Tha’s my all time favorite. LOL!

    Reply

  69. 469
    Jenni Mason
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Like you on Facebook!!! I mean Love!!

    Reply

  70. 470
    Victoria
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    PS thanks for the second chance at wining! I just Liked you on FB

    Reply

  71. 471
    Tina Davis
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Im a fan on FB.
    Love vanilla bean icecream sandwiched between homemade chocalate chip cookies. YUM!!!

    Reply

  72. 472
    Marsha
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I LOVE vanilla bean ice cream,but I also like to put vanilla in a Dr. Pepper! I am also a fan on facebook. Bless You

    Reply

  73. 473
    Vickie Logan
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I have to say Pioneer Woman’s vanilla bean scones Yummy!

    Reply

  74. 474
    Jennifer
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Great post! My favorite vanilla recipe would have to be plain-old vanilla sugar. Great to have on hand to perk up some wheat toast in the morning.

    Reply

  75. 475
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Salted Chocolate Vanilla Bean Cookies that I found on Joy the Baker!

    I would love to make the cookies with the vanilla from one of your adorable bottles! Such DIY’er! :)

    Reply

  76. 476
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I love Taste of Home’s Vanilla Wafers! My husband tells me every time I make them that they taste like cookies he had in elementary school. (I think they are waaaay better than that)

    I friended you on facebook

    Reply

  77. 477
    jeanette
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    My favorite is vanilla ice cream…then the pods go into vanilla sugar… but this sounds like much more useful!!! I would be interested in knowing where you bought your vanilla… my local sources only sell by the bean and aren’t always identified by location… love the bottles and love the idea… I’m going to start gathering ingredients and bottls and make for next year… thanks so much for sharing… now to find you on facebook…

    Reply

  78. 478
    Renee
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I use my vanilla in everything. My favorite use is homemade Vanilla frozen yogart. And my Banana Bread recipe.

    Reply

  79. 479
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I am your facebook friend

    Reply

  80. 480
    Lyndsey O'Brien
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I absolutely love vanilla bean cheesecake!! Using a combination of extract and the seed pods bumps up the vanilla intensity–and I am all about intense vanilla flavor!

    Reply

  81. 481
    Elizabeth
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Love the labels and love vanlla! Cranberry sauce with cassis and vanilla bean was my new obsession this holiday season!

    Reply

  82. 482
    Elizabeth
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I am a fan on facebook.

    Reply

  83. 483
    Staarr
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Anything with vanilla is my favorite! Vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream icing would be at the top of my list though.

    Reply

  84. 484
    hristy martin
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    We make the best eggnog using fresh vanilla bean.

    Reply

  85. 485
    Staarr
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Friending you on Facebook too!

    Reply

  86. 486
    Amanda
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    This is the first time I’ve been to your site, and I’m in love! We make home-made syrup to go with our home made pancakes, one of my faves we’ve experimented with is Vanilla-Maple. Yummy!

    Reply

  87. 487
    Gidget Shenefield
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Yummy…all these posts have made me hungry for something vanilla!
    My favorite way to use vanilla is to make homemade kahlua with lots of vanilla bean…I’ll have to go make some now!

    Reply

  88. 488
    Gidget Shenefield
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I am now a facebook follower!

    Reply

  89. 489
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I love vanilla! I use it in baked carrots, baked sweet potatoes, pies and cakes. I have to admit though that my favorite is homeade vanilla ice cream :)

    Reply

  90. 490
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Homemade icecream.Also brownies

    Reply

  91. 491
    Ginger
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Love vanilla in my coffee with cream!

    Reply

  92. 492
    Karla B.
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I think my favorite recipe is Philadelphia Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I know you can get VB ice cream just about anywhere nowadays, but back in the 70s when Baskin Robbins just started selling it, it was something none of us in So Cal had ever had. I found a recipe for it a few years later in an out of print cookbook, made it, and fell in love all over again. I think the vanilla bean imparts a slight “woodsy” taste to it, but that is part of its charm. It was my mom’s favorite (along with Meyer Lemon Ice), so just the thought of it evokes happy memories.

    Reply

  93. 493
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I love vanilla almonds.
    Just made my first bottle. Waiting is going to be awful. Used madagasgar beans.

    Reply

  94. 494
    Jodi
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Chocolate chip cookies with a good splash of homemade vanilla!

    Reply

  95. 495
    tcmaryf
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I follow you on Google, so thnx for the second chance

    Reply

  96. 496
    Jodi
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Like you on FB!

    Reply

  97. 497
    Sarah
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Chocolate Chip Cookies!

    Reply

  98. 498
    Patty
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I love the flavor vanilla in everything!

    Reply

  99. 499
    Allison
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I enjoy the vanilla flavor in simple sand dollar cookies which I make every Christmas.

    Reply

  100. 500
    Lei
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Buckwheat pancakes with a splash of vanilla, some nutmeg and cinnamon, and a hint of orange zest. I always add everything to taste so they’re a little different every time but always SOOOOO good. :)

    Reply

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