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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. 501
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I love the vanilla flavor of snow cream!

    Reply

  2. 502
    Anita
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Vanilla Latte’
    I have a batch started, it is going to be a long wait!!

    Reply

  3. 503
    Laura H
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe is vanilla buttercream frosting, it’s soo easy and soo good!

    Reply

  4. 504
    susan
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Vanilla bean ice cream!

    Reply

  5. 505
    Karen White
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I love making homemade vanilla buttercream!

    Reply

  6. 506
    susan
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I tweeted.

    Reply

  7. 507
    susan
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    And I “liked” you on Facebook! Don’t know why I hadn’t already done that…

    Reply

  8. 508
    Tracey N.
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe is a White Russian made with homade Irish Cream Liquor an homemade Vanilla Vodka!! The Best EVER!!

    Reply

  9. 509
    Carol B.
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I love a vanilla milkshake! It sounds boring, but it’s not!

    Reply

  10. 510
    Sandy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    ostakaka—a scandanavian dish made with vanilla flavoring.

    Reply

  11. 511
    Sandy
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    also a fan on facebook

    Reply

  12. 512
    kathy m
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I love using vanilla for cookies; snickerdoodles & oatmeal/apple!

    Reply

  13. 513
    Willie Marie Scott
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I am a fan on facebook.

    Reply

  14. 514
    Barbara
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Butter cookies! I use lots of vanilla because I bake alot, and there is nothing better than REAL vanilla. I won’t use anything else.

    Reply

  15. 515
    Barbara Thomas
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I LOVE creme brulee !!!. The better the vanilla, the better the brulee !!

    Reply

  16. 516
    Shawn Campbell
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Vanilla Bean Butter Cake!

    Reply

  17. 517
    kristen
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    I love barefoot contessa’s brownie pudding, which calls for vanilla bean – using the bean instead of extract makes a huge difference, even with all the chocolate!

    Reply

  18. 518
    Jane Tamplen
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I love our homemade vanilla ice cream anytime of year! I also like the vanilla custard I make for trifle. Yum!

    Reply

  19. 519
    Sue
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Vanilla bean ice cream – nothing better!

    Reply

  20. 520
    Tammi Lowande
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Homemade Vanilla Caramels!

    Reply

  21. 521
    Sharon
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Homemade vanilla custard! Fan on FB. Thanks for the recipes!

    Reply

  22. 522
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream :)

    Reply

  23. 523
    Christina Beavers
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Homemade Vanilla Pudding–WARM!!!

    Reply

  24. 524
    Margaret
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I would have to say my homemade shortbread. Yes, I have been adding vanilla to that for many years and it is so tasty.

    Reply

  25. 525
    amber
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    My favortie vanilla recipe is…. carmel vanilla popcorn :) Yum!

    Reply

  26. 526
    Wanda
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Mexican Wedding Cakes

    Reply

  27. 527
    Nellie
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I like to use it in pecan pie

    Reply

  28. 528
    Epi
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    vanilla bean crème brûlée!

    Reply

  29. 529
    Colleen
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    My new favourite vanilla recipe is your recipe for homemade vanilla extract. I love vanilla in everything and usually add more than the recipe requires. I’m definitely going to make this.

    Reply

  30. 530
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Ah!!! Some one else that makes their own homemade vanilla with vodka!!!!
    That is my most favorite recipe. I also like to use it in rice pudding.

    Reply

  31. 531
    HELENNA
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    HOMEMADE VANILLA ICE CREAM!!! YUM!!!

    Reply

  32. 532
    HELENNA
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I “LIKED” YOU ON FB!!!

    Reply

  33. 533
    Carol S
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    OMG how do I pick just one? But you can’t do a really great cream cheese frosting without it!

    Reply

  34. 534
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Favorite recipe is a simple arborio rice pudding with vanilla bean in it…fragrant and delicious!
    (liked on FB and posted on Twitter!) :)

    Reply

  35. 535
    MaryAnn WI
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I love vanilla milkshakes!

    Reply

  36. 536
    Rita K
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I love vanilla malts!

    Reply

  37. 537
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I love vanilla gelato topped with a shot of espresso!! SO good. Thanks for sharing this giveaway!!

    Reply

  38. 538
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Fresh vanilla bean scones. YUM!

    Reply

  39. 539
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Oh my, do I love me some vanilla beans! I never cooked or baked much with them until culinary school, and now I am in desperate love. My favorite vanilla flavored confection is undoubtedly creme brulee. Yum!

    Reply

  40. 540
    Lori
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I love homemade vanilla extract added to Tennessee Boiled Custard at the holidays. I enjoy making vanilla extract using beans and vodka to give away as Christmas presents with jar cookies – recipients appreciate the time and effort you give to the present.

    Reply

  41. 541
    Martha
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Just found your blog – and its great. My absolute favorite vanilla recipe is Vanilla Roasted Pears, from the blog Smitten Kitchen. The house smells amazing and the dessert is crazy good (and simple). Add a little vanilla ice cream and perhaps a chocolate truffle and I’m in complete bliss! Plus since its pears, its healthy right?

    Reply

  42. 542
    Sara Wyatt
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream!!

    Reply

  43. 543
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I just really love plain homemade whipped cream with extra vanilla extract. soo good! also I’m already with you on Facebook :) Thanks for the giveaway!

    Reply

  44. 544
    Mel
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Apple Bread!

    Reply

  45. 545
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Vanilla pound cake is the best!

    Reply

  46. 546
    paula d
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I add a little vanilla to my french toast egg mixture with cinamon, nutmeg, great mix.

    Reply

  47. 547
    Mel
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Fan on FB!

    Reply

  48. 548
    Penny
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Have never made my own vanilla but have to try this. I bought pure vanilla when I was in Mexico a couple years ago and am almost out. I use vanilla in just about everything I bake. I used extra in frosting this year for my Christmas cookies. Also love to use it when making french toast. Thanks for the recipe. Think I’ll make this for my girlfriends for Christmas!

    Reply

  49. 549
    Penny
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I like Love and Olive Oil on Facebook.

    Reply

  50. 550
    Lynn Daws
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    This looks so good, I definitely want to try making some. My all time favorite would have to be vanilla bean ice cream.

    Reply

  51. 551
    Lynn Daws
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I also Liked you on facebook.
    Thanks and good luck everyone!

    Reply

  52. 552
    Linda
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Well, I’ll enter another giveaway and if the Lord wills, I’ll win. If not, I won’t, but I’ll have fun reading all the posts, at least. :-)
    I think so far, of all the ways I’ve used vanilla, my favorite has been just a tiny drop or two in our fruit smoothies we make in our VitaMix (am I allowed to mention brand names here???).
    Oh…and just to show how utterly lacking in culinary knowledge I am…this is the first time I knew that liquor was used to make vanilla extract!
    Uhhmmm…yeah…true statement. Guess I never read the ingredients.

    Reply

  53. 553
    Penny Pike
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    I love vanilla coffee :D

    Reply

  54. 554
    Janet Ardoin
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I love vanilla in home-made pralines! I liked on FB! getting your posts -so going to double check and make sure I am on your fan list! thanks for all the delish recipes!! PEACE-Janet

    Reply

  55. 555
    jac
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    my favorite vanilla recipe is the vanilla agave cupcakes from “vegan cupcakes take over the world” i like to keep vanilla beans in my bottles of agave nectar to make the agave extra tasty!

    Reply

  56. 556
    Posted On January 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Vanilla rosemary creme brulee. Not a combo I would think of immediately but SO. DANG. GOOD. I’ve got bottles and vodka, all I need to do is get ahold of some vanilla beans.

    Reply

  57. 557
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Hmmm…narrowing it down to one favorite will be tough. Recently, we made vanilla snow ice cream a couple of weeks ago that was delicious. Can’t wait for the next snow storm so we can make it again!

    Reply

  58. 558
    Colleen
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I absolutely love this vanilla bean/ coconut cream pie I recently baked!

    Reply

  59. 559
    Thad
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 12:20 am

    My wife makes the most amazing vanilla bean cupcakes with dulce de leche filling. Amazing! (and so are the cupcakes)

    Reply

  60. 560
    dawn
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 2:48 am

    My favorite is old fashioned vanilla ice cream like Grandma used to make!

    Reply

  61. 561
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Nothing with “vanilla” in the title, but my favorite is peanut brittle! My recipe uses quite a bit of vanilla, and using top quality vanilla extract is key to the recipe.

    To top it off, I live in rural Spain, and finding vanilla extract is very difficult!

    Reply

  62. 562
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I love my old fashioned Italian sugar cookie recipe….real vanilla and less sugar than other recipes! Reminds me of my childhood when we used to dunk these cookies made from scratch (using the end of a drinking glass to cut them out) into a nice cup of coffee!
    Ahhhhh…the memories. Would love to do this with a homemade vanilla!

    Reply

  63. 563
    ellen
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 9:31 am

    i’m a purist…. just vanilla bean ice cream, straight up

    Reply

  64. 564
    Amity
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 9:32 am

    So easy and cheap! If you are into natural this is better then the store bought stuff.

    Reply

  65. 565
    Angie P.
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Love vanilla, vanila bean ice cream is the best.

    Reply

  66. 566
    grgsbuny
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 9:59 am

    vanilla ice cream..or custard

    Reply

  67. 567
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 10:06 am

    My favorite vanilla recipe would be simple, delicious vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  68. 568
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I follow you on facebook already.

    Reply

  69. 569
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I follow you on twitter and just shared about your giveaway.

    Reply

  70. 570
    Kim
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

    My mom brought me back vanilla beans from Mexico and I made mini vanilla bean cheesecakes with cranberry topping. Delicious!

    Reply

  71. 571
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I actually got hommade vanilla for a Christmas present this year as well. Excited to use it!

    I recently started my own blog, and was hoping you would have some advice to someone that is just starting out.

    Looking forward to (hopefully) hearing from you!

    Reply

  72. 572
    tiffany
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Creme brulee would be my favorite vanilla recipe.

    Reply

  73. 573
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

    PLease enter me!!!!

    Reply

  74. 574
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I *like* Love and Olive Oil on FB too:)

    Reply

  75. 575
    Amanda McVay
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Vanilla cookies. They don’t last long at our house.

    Reply

  76. 576
    Amanda McVay
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I like you on facebook.

    Reply

  77. 577
    Kathy Kim
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I love making deep chocolate espresso biscotti with vanilla extract-so yummy with my coffee!

    Reply

  78. 578
    Lauren Croucher
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    It’s a toss up between vanilla bean ice cream and vanilla creme brulee… yum! Vanilla is the best!

    Reply

  79. 579
    Lauren Croucher
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I’m already a facebook fan!!

    Reply

  80. 580
    Jillian
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard…mmmmmmmmmmmm…

    Reply

  81. 581
    Céline
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Vanilla bean icecream. Simple and delicious!

    Reply

  82. 582
    Kerry
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    My favorite vanilla recipe is eggfree and dairyfree vanilla pancakes. :)

    Reply

  83. 583
    Kerry
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I’m also a new fan on Facebook.

    Reply

  84. 584
    Susan DeVore
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    My favorite recipe using Vanilla is:
    Vanilla Crème Brulée!
    YUMMY!!!

    Reply

  85. 585
    Kara
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I discovered a delish peach pie recipe that calls for vanilla bean — the flavor combo is excellent!

    Reply

  86. 586
    Kara
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I’m also a fan on Facebook

    Reply

  87. 587
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Carmel Latte cupcakes with vanilla frosting!!

    Reply

  88. 588
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I love vanilla milkshakes!

    Reply

  89. 589
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I became a fan on FB. :)

    Reply

  90. 590
    Gina Shevlin
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    My favorite for vanilla is Ice cream and also kefir. I follow you on twitter also! thanks and have a good day:)

    Reply

  91. 591
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I am not entering because I made my own.
    I used a pint of vodka and 3 vanilla beans that I slized open the long way. That was in 2005, and I keep the vodka and beans together. The extract is so potent and delicious. The extract did not really take on its current form until about 2 years. Next time, try leaving in the beans for longer than 6 months. Your time and patience will be rewarded.

    Reply

  92. 592
    Sara
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Vanilla Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop.

    Reply

  93. 593
    MarinaM
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Warm Vanilla Cider

    Reply

  94. 594
    Mel
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Billy’s Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes!

    Reply

  95. 595
    Chris Thompson
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Vanilla Caramel!

    Reply

  96. 596
    Whitney Thompson
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Icing (vanilla of course)!

    Reply

  97. 597
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Hi! My favorite Vanilla recipe is Vanilla Cake! Yum!

    PS, I’m you’re biggest fan on FB ;-)
    No really, I’m physically huge! (jk, I hope….) :-D

    Reply

  98. 598
    Katie
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Vanilla Ice Cream…I have not yet perfected mine :(

    Maybe now is my chance! :)

    Reply

  99. 599
    Nena
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Creamy homemade vanilla ice cream with a luscious vanilla/lemon pound cake!

    Reply

  100. 600
    Tiena
    Posted On January 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Vanilla bean pound cake!

    Reply

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