How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

You can make your own vanilla extract at home for a fraction of the price.

We’ve made our own vanilla extract for so long that I’d forgotten how tiny and expensive the store-bought bottles are. Whole vanilla beans are pricey—individual beans can cost more than a dollar each, and you’ll use six to ten beans for a pint of liquor. Let’s figure on $1 per bean for ten beans and around $10 for the bourbon, so a pint of homemade vanilla extract is going to cost you about $20. Because most recipes that call for vanilla extract require only a small amount, a pint will last you for a long time, and it’s still much cheaper per ounce than store-bought vanilla. We just keep topping our jar off with bourbon.

Ingredients/Additional Materials:

·        Food processor or blender

·        Measuring spoons and cups

·        Rubber scrapers

·        Storage containers and lids

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·        10 whole vanilla beans

·        1 pint bourbon (choose an inexpensive brand, but not rotgut)

·        Optional: pint jar


Slice down the length of each bean, through just one side, leaving the ends intact and opening it up to expose the seeds. Stand the beans up in a jar or bottle that will hold a pint of liquid. Cover the beans with the bourbon. You can simply put the beans into the bourbon bottle if you pour out a little bit to compensate for the beans’ volume. Cap the bottle and shake it gently. Store the bottle in a dark place for five to six months, shaking gently once a week or so to blend and infuse.

Use the extract directly from the bottle; no filtering is unnecessary

This article was excerpted with permission from the book Urban Farm Projects: Making the Most of Your Money, Space, and Stuff, copyright 2014, I-5 Publishing, LLC. For more budget-friendly and environmentally conscience projects and recipes, pick up a copy today!

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