Fall is upon us in full swing now. And that means the baking season has begun in earnest around here. So many wonderful treats to bake in the kitchen while the leaves change outside my window.
And when the white stuff starts flying, there aren’t a whole lot of choices besides sledding, skiing and snow shoeing. (JK. I know there are other winter activities besides baking…)
Most of my holiday baking recipes have a couple things in common though: butter and Pure Vanilla Extract. I started making my own vanilla extract a few years ago.
Pure Vanilla Extract lends a beautiful and authentic flavor to cakes, cookies, candy, smoothies, sauces and a hundred other culinary delights!
Not sure why I didn’t start making vanilla extract sooner. Well actually, I do. Here’s the scoop. For thirty years plus our family and extended family traveled south to Virginia to spend the Thanksgiving holidays. It was a joyful time. My Aunt Pinkie and Uncle Bob always hosted and did an amazing job. Aunt Pinkie is quite the cook.
I always said she cooked in vats when we were in town. She had three ovens and even a professional ice-maker. Never a girl scout, but always prepared. And good thing too, since there were nearly forty of us descending on her for the long weekend! Wonderful times and memories made in that home.
With the exception of a few nappers, we took an annual family stroll the day after Thanksgiving in downtown Warrenton. Some of the girls (me! me! me!) always visited the mom and pop drug store on Main Street. No worries, we weren’t buying drugs. We were buying 8 oz. bottles of pure vanilla extract they made in the pharmacy. For $3. Yikes. Can you believe it?
It was a steal, even back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. And we knew it. Sometimes I’d order 24 bottles ahead. And no, they weren’t all for me! They made great, affordable little Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers for the cooks and bakers in my life. The vanilla was packaged in plastic brown medicine bottles in two sizes: 4 oz. or 8 oz. ( I always bought the 8 oz.)
Don’t know if that drug store in Warrenton still makes their own pure vanilla extract. My extended family has since moved to Pennsylvania. But if you live anywhere nearby, you should drop by and check it out.
So now I make my own Pure Vanilla Extract. And guess what.
It’s easy. So easy. Takes just two ingredients: vodka and vanilla beans.
I buy Madagascar vanilla beans online from Amazon. Did you know that vanilla beans are the long, greenish-yellow seed pods of the tropical orchid plant, vanilla planifolia?
And furthermore, before the plant flowers, the unripened pods are picked and cured ’til they’re dark brown. They can take up to six months to cure. And about those vanilla bean pods: the aroma is intoxicating.
So I just brown-bag the vodka from my local liquor store. You’ll need thirty days for the vanilla beans to infuse the vodka, so plan ahead for gift giving.
Seriously, this makes the BEST gift or stocking stuffer ever for a home baker. So easy. Even better, there’s still plenty of time before the holidays!
So whatcha waitin’ for?
DIY Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 lb. vanilla bean pods approximately 26-30 pods
- 1 quart vodka 32 ounces
- Slice or chop beans into half inch pieces.
- Place beans in a clean quart bottle.
- Fill bottle with name brand vodka, 70 to 90 proof.
- Shake daily for one month.
You may also like: Vanilla Bean Maple Syrup
it has been so long since I made my own vanilla… I really should again! 🙂
Such a great homemade gift idea for the holidays!
It’s like you read my mind – I keep meaning to google this…
Dear Beth — It must have been that blood red moon…. (giggle)
Sheila @ Life, Love, and Good Food says
I bet this smells amazing, too! DIY Vanilla is definitely a unique gift idea!
Anu-My Ginger Garlic Kitchen says
Oh god! Telepathy does work, Allie! You wouldn’t believe that I have been looking for this recipe last couple of days, and here you are. My search id over now! I am giving this a try ASAP. Thank you so much for this awesome share! 🙂
Kay Knauff says
I’m so chuckling at the brown bagging the vodka. 😉 I am going to try this. Can you still find brown bottles?
Dear Kay, I did chuckle writing that. 🙂 I’ve never found the plastic brown bottles but I have bought brown glass bottles when I make different extracts. They’re called Boston Round….and I get them on Amazon. Here is a link http://www.amazon.com/Boston-Round-Bottles-Oz-Pack/dp/B003FXH2LY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1443625269&sr=8-2&keywords=brown+bottle I have been very happy with them and they are inexpensive too. Thanks for dropping by!
Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says
So genius to make your own! I have been meaning to try making my own for-ev-er!!
Vanilla is my ABSOULUTE favorite flavoring…..I’m pretty plain and simple. I have never made my own, but now I know how. So easy and inexpensive!
Dear Allie, I would love to start making my own extracts like you. I never thought of making my own vanilla. This would be perfect now that baking season is here and I think it would make wonderful gifts as well (I come from a family that loves to cook and bake as much as I do). Have a wonderful day my dear. Hope all is well. xoxo, Catherine
You never cease to amaze me! I never would have thought to make my own vanilla extract. What a fantastic idea for gift giving. I’m doing it!!! Can’t wait!
Kelly - Life Made Sweeter says
I love that you made your own vanilla extract! It’s perfect for baking season and for would make such a wonderful gift around the holidays! I can’t wait to try this!
Susie Mandel says
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Funds are tight this year and I have been thinking of gift ideas, especially for those with allergies. This is perfect! And, Pinkie, if you read this, ditto to what Allie said. The Doepke family has wonderful, sweet memories of our times in your home and your yummy food, too!!
Shashi at RunninSrilankan says
Thanks dear Allie – I learned so much here today! had no clue vanilla beans were “greenish-yellow seed pods of the tropical orchid plant, vanilla planifolia” – nor did I know they had to cure before they became the vanilla pods we buy! And I had no clue DIY vanilla extract was possible without an extractor! Lady – other than gifting these – you should sell them – for way more than that drug store sold theirs for! My mind is blown!
Perhaps we could set up a little roadside stand in the middle, say Virginia? Then again, that’s where that drug store is. Maybe we should just meet there for a long weekend, enjoy the sights and buy the $3 vanilla….XO
Aunt Margie says
Nobody cooks for crowds like Aunt Pinkie. And she still does! I
Left mint extract curing in a dark cupboard when I left for VT and now I know what to do when I get home. We (Fall extracts ?) lived on your blog recipes. We lived too well, ahem. Such a marvelous family time!
Wonderful Auntie M, I’m so happy you had such a great visit. Fun to think of you all sampling THLG recipes at the cottage…xo
Marissa @ OMG FOOD says
DIY extracts is the way to go, as is brown-bagging it. 🙂 You just inspired me to make this to gift around the holidays; thanks!
Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life says
I’ve never tried making my own vanilla extract and I never knew it was so easy! I’m going to try it this year!
Carina Spring says
I never would have thought of making my own vanilla extract, and I had no idea that it was so simple. It really is a brilliant gift idea, and what a treat for the family!
As an aside, did you know that there was a study done about what your favourite ice-cream flavour says about you? Apparently lovers of vanilla ice-cream are likely to be “colourful, impulsive, idealistic risk-takers who rely more on intuition than logic…” , oh… and expressive. (Quoted from Reader’s Digest) What does that leave for the other flavours? Haha, I don’t think it was a very scientific study, though, but still fun, especially if you are a lover of vanilla!
Have a great day and thanks for sharing another fantastic idea. 🙂
That’s so funny, Carina. Yeah, what does that say for the other more adventurous flavors???? xo
Karen @ On the Banks of Salt Creek says
I’ve known how to make vanilla extract for years but, it is one of those things I have yet to do. Does it matter what quality of vodka I buy? I know the vanilla beans matter. Can you reuse your vanilla beans? A friend gave me a bottle she made a couple of years ago. It is still empty except for the beans.
Hey Karen – I’ve heard several times that inexpensive vodka works just fine. And I don’t recommend trying to reuse the vanilla bean pods. I did just that as an experiment this past summer – I couldn’t bring myself to throw away those pricey vanilla beans. The second time around they yielded the lightest ever vanilla, not really vanilla at all. So next, I made a really strong batch, and every time I use a little of the strong stuff in a recipe, I add back in from the weak bottle. (Couldn’t part with the weak stuff either…can you see how I might have pack-rat tendencies???)
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
Are you a mind reader? The other day I was at the store buying Pure Vanilla Extract and I totally thought to myself, “One of these days I have to try making my own”. And POOF here you are posting this! Crazy. I have NO clue why I have never tried my hand at making my own… but obviously that is going to change now that you saved the day and provided me a handy-dandy recipe! 🙂 YAY to that! Pinned! Cheers, lovely lady! Hope you are having a week as fabulous as you! xo
I had no idea it was so easy to make vanilla extract! I go through a lot of it and it is so pricey.
It’s so smart to make your own! I’ve been meaning to learn how to, so thank you for this recipe!
I love making my own extracts! Unfortunately I don’t usually think about it until I need the extract, then it’s too late!
Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
I’ve been making my own vanilla extract for a couple of years now and I’ll never go back – homemade is the best!
You used all 1/4 lb of vanilla beans for 1 quart of vodka?
I did, JP. If you use a smaller quantity of vodka, just adjust the vanilla beans down accordingly. This makes a delicious, strong vanilla extract that I’ve been using in all my fall baking with great results.
This looks great, Allie! I may give this a try for Christmas presents. I have very fond memories of those Thanksgivings and walks to Warrenton. I remember hearing all about that vanilla too;).