Homemade Vanilla

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If you think you’ve seen this before, you’re not wrong–I posted this last fall and it was our most popular recipe of 2013! It’s not too early (or too late!) to get started on brewing your own homemade vanilla, so if this is something you’ve wanted to do in the past, today’s your day! 

Original Post

You guys, I have a confession. I’m kind of the biggest Grinch in the universe. I don’t mean to be–I genuinely want to love the Christmas season. But see…when the 4th of July is over and then you go to Hobby Lobby and they’re all decked out for Christmas, by the time the big day rolls around ALMOST 6 MONTHS LATER, I’m so done. I’m over it. Right now, I’m ambivalently pleased that Christmas is around the corner, but come December, I’ll be ready to pack up my tree before I’ve even decorated it.

So in October, I’m all excited about Christmas cards and holiday goodies, so really, now is the key time for me to pounce on Christmas, because if I don’t, I’m going to have a lot of half-filled treat bags, undelivered laundry detergent (yes, I give laundry detergent to friends and teachers for Christmas…I’m THAT friend), and Christmas cards that I post on Facebook 6 days after Christmas is over. Some of you may think I’m kidding or exaggerating. I’m so not. All of these things have happened.

Basically…I’m here to help anyone else who feels a little frazzled by the time December rolls around. If you’ve never made your own vanilla, it’s amazing–the taste is incomparable (especially when you consider the cost of making your own vanilla vs. buying real vanilla extract), and if you make it for gift-giving, you can start now. October. Pre-holiday burnout. And when you give it as a gift, people can make their own dang cookies and your kitchen stays mess-free, which is pretty much the greatest gift you can give yourself AND your children during the busiest time of the year.

You’re going to need some supplies–vanilla beans, liquor (yes,  vanilla extract is made with liquor–I know people who were genuinely shocked to learn this), and bottles. And labels (eventually, but you can get them now if you want). If you’re like me and live in a place where you can conveniently purchase large bottles of hard liquor in grocery stores and places like Sam’s Club and Costco whilst buying baby food, milk, and eggs, the liquor purchasing is no biggie (unless you’re trying to draw as little attention to yourself as possible and proceed to lose your Sam’s Club receipt, so you’re waiting in line to get a duplicate receipt so they’ll let you leave, then you spill your entire 32-ounce Diet Coke and run into your ecclesiastical leader with a giant bottle of vodka and a giant bottle of white rum in your shopping cart…not that I know ANYTHING about this scenario…)

ANYWAY. I decided I wanted to try making vanilla with both vodka and white rum to see what I liked better. For the record, they both smell like death.

homemade vanilla rum and vodka

When it comes to booze, I pretty much know nothing from firsthand experience, so I was just going off what I was reading on the internet. Vodka is often the standard for vanilla-making, but a lot of people also recommended using rum. But…I don’t like the flavor of rum–I find it sickly and overpowering. So I decided to try using white rum, which is just about as flavorless and straight-up alcohol-y as vodka.

I was actually pretty surprised to discover that even though the vodka and white rum smelled almost exactly the same before I added the vanilla beans, once they had brewed for awhile, they were very different. The vodka vanilla was similar to what you buy in a store, so if that’s what you’re after, go for the vodka. The rum vanilla was sweeter and more fragrant. After a few years of making this, I only use white rum to make vanilla because it’s hands-down my favorite.

I bought my bottles and vanilla beans from Amazon. Don’t even think about buying your vanilla beans in a grocery store–they’re, like, $10/bean, plus 20% of your soul and a security deposit on your firstborn child. Think about how many bottles you want to make, and shop around for the best price according to your needs. These ones are greatOliveNation also has really great sales on them sometimes, so be sure to check them out and watch there, too. If this turns into “your thing” you’re planning on doing every year like me, I’d recommend just kind of watching all of the time, so you can get a feel for how prices are fluctuating.

vanilla beans

I use these 4-ounce glass bottles.

amber bottles

I think these are ideal because it’s the perfect size for gift-giving and the dark-colored glass helps protect the flavor of the vanilla.

There are lots of different methods to making vanilla, but I like cutting the ends off.

homemade vanilla

This helps the brewing process go faster, so if you get a late start (like mid-November), you could still conceivably have enough time to get it done.

I divided up my beans equally into large mason jars

homemade vanilla

and then covered them with the rum (or vodka…but really, it’s all about the rum.)

homemade vanilla

You could also put the beans directly into the bottle, but I wanted to use the beans later for something else and I didn’t want to risk them getting stuck in the narrow neck of the bottle.

Place the lids on your jars and shake them vigorously. Then place them in a cool, dark place (like a closet or a cupboard) and shake them once a week or so.

In about a month, the vanilla flavor will have started infusing the liquor and it will be darker and fragrant. It will never get as dark as commercial vanilla because they almost always use artificial coloring, but as long as it smells good, you’re good to go.

homemade vanillaIt’s usable at this point, and likely better than most stuff you can buy in the store. But if you can, I would let it brew for another month at least. This year, I started mine in July!

Finally, when you’re ready to give these away, carefully (like…use a funnel. This stuff is precious) fill the bottles.

homemade vanilla

I also stick a bean in each bottle so the flavor will continue to get stronger (you may need to trim it down a little to fit).

If you have beans left over, be sure to squeeze out the bean paste from the beans

vanilla bean paste

and save it in an airtight container. Use it in ice creams, sweet sauces, whipped cream, jams, jellies, etc. You can also allow the pods to dry out (after you squeeze out their insides) and then grind them up into a powder using a coffee or spice grinder and sprinkle it into anything that you’d like to add vanilla flavor to (or mix it with sugar to make your own vanilla sugar).

To make the labels, I used some Martha Stewart kraft paper labels that were once available at Staples, but they don’t make them anymore. Here is what I’ve found that you might be able to use instead:

40 Printable Kraft labels

40 Printable Grey labels

Chalkboard labels

More chalkboard labels

Also, I found this handy-dandy punch if you want to get creative.

I’m not including a printable because you might want them to say something different or more customized (plus, chances are your name is not Jones…and what if you use Tahitian vanilla beans? Or Mexican?). But I will tell you how I made them in the printable instructions below, so never fear.

Check out how cute they are on the bottles!

Homemade vanilla from Our Best BitesAlso…remember these cookies? Giant oatmeal chocolate chip cookies? They call for a whole tablespoon of vanilla, which is part of what makes them so delicious. So if you really love someone, you could tuck a copy of that recipe in with a bottle of this amazing vanilla with a bag of high-quality chocolate chips (these Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips are my favorite for that particular recipe).

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Excited?? I hope so! This is the only way our neighbor/co-worker gifts get done!

This is how I did things…please feel free to customize everything to your own needs/tastes.

Homemade Vanilla
A practical, original, and yummy gift - perfect for the holidays!
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 1.75-liter bottles vodka or white rum
  2. 60 vanilla beans
  3. 4-ounce glass amber bottles (between 30-40) washed (you probably won't use all of them at once)
  4. Martha Stewart Kraft Labels, Flourish style
Instructions
  1. Cut the ends off the vanilla beans and divide them evenly among 4-5 1-quart glass mason jars.
  2. Cover with vodka or rum and close tightly. Shake vigorously.
  3. Place in a cool, dark place and shake the bottles about once a week for at least 1-2 months (but you could do this forever if you wanted).
  4. When ready to gift, carefully fill each glass bottle with vanilla extract and secure the lids tightly. If you'd like, you can include a vanilla bean (you'd likely have to trim it) in each bottle.
Notes
  1. If you have beans left over, be sure to squeeze out the bean paste from the beans and save it in an airtight container. Use it in ice creams, sweet sauces, whipped cream, jams, jellies, etc. You can also allow the pods to dry out (after you squeeze out their insides) and then grind them up into a powder using a coffee or spice grinder and sprinkle it into anything that you'd like to add vanilla flavor to (or mix it with sugar to make your own vanilla sugar).
Our Best Bites http://ourbestbites.com/

For the labels, this is what I did:

1. Use the template designs OR make your own to print using this Avery template.

2. The print font is Penelope Anne and the script font is Lavenderia. Everything is centered.

JONES FAMILY (Penelope Anne, 14 pt font)
Madagascar Vanilla (Lavenderia, 26 pt font)
ALL-NATURAL * HOMEMADE (Penelope Anne, 14 pt font)

If you’d like, you could include favorite recipes that use vanilla and a key ingredient, like a bag of chocolate chips.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
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208 comments

  1. the link for the bottles is for 4 oz bottles, not 2 oz… which is i think what yours are? 3.5 liters is 118 ounces, give or take, so i think 30 4 oz bottles is all you would need?

    i am very excited to try the rum version! i would have passed on it as i think rum tastes awful, but am going to give it a go now!

  2. I’m pretty excited to try this now! I have made vanilla syrup (for coffee) before but never this. Two years ago a lot of my Christmas featured vodka based items (blueberry flavoured, plum pudding flavoured, vodka soaked berries…) so I am keen to try this for this Christmas. Something that I read online and have tested is that running your cheap vodka through a carbon filter (like a water filter jug) will greatly improve the flavour. Even though you are then adding flavouring I tend to buy the cheapest vodka I can and do this about three times first.

  3. I am so excited for this! I’ve been wanting to make homemade vanilla FOREVER! However, when I told my husband I would need to buy a bottle of liquor, he gave me *the look* – ha! So obviously I need to make a little shopping trip while he’s at work. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. My store bought real vanilla extract has an expiration date. Do you know how long this homemade vanilla will be good?

    1. Theoretically, it should last forever because the alcohol will kill any bacteria that’s growing. You might need to add another bean now and then, but it shouldn’t go bad. That said, sometimes the manufacturer adds water, sugar, artificial coloring, etc., and those may shorten the life of your vanilla.

  5. Grinch here too! Want to love the holiday season, always feel a day late and a dollar short. Add in hosting Christmas dinner for 18, after doing same at Thanksgiving, well, I’m pretty much done in.

    But I made homemade vanilla extract for myself in 2011 after reading about it on Attainable Sustainable blog. EASY! My SIL had leftover vanilla bean from some project and gave me 3 beans. FYI, Costco sells vanilla beans for a reasonable price. 12 beans, so perfect for this project. I buy stopper bottles from Walmart (bottles for homemade beer). Cheap vodka or rum. Don’t need the good stuff, no one will know. I placed 2-3 beans in bottle, filled with vodka and let sit for 3 months, shaking every few days. BEST VANILLA EVER!! Can really tell the difference. I would suggest to your readers that they can then give the bottle with the vanilla beans in there. Cute labels like you have but also suggesting that if they refill the bottles with more vodka after half gone, these are good for 2-3 years. THEN the spent beans can be dried and mixed into white sugar for vanilla sugar. A gift that keeps on giving.

    This worked so well for me over the last 2 years that I am making them for friends and family after several requests. The biggest trick is to start them NOW. It needs the 3 months to develop the flavor. Oh, I also sent the bottle with beans only to my mother. Shipped really well and she only had to add the vodka.

  6. Hi Brooke (number 4). Just chiming in here again. I have been using mine for just about 3 yrs without trouble. Alcohol preserves the beans. I need to replace mine but only because my beans are spent. Perhaps by law your bottle needs an exp date? Or they put it on there because people expect it? Or they want you to buy more? Or there are other ing in there? Mine is in dark cabinet, never had trouble.

  7. I did this last year. I was so excited. I started in July making (what I thought would be) the best vanilla ever. I am scared to use it. I normally use Mexican vanilla…let’s face it, it the best smell on earth. So making my own, and discovering that the sweet smell I have grown up loving was not to be found. I was underwhelmed with my months of jar shaking. I still have the homemade vanilla, but have not touched it. I am not even sure if it’s good any more. Would I notice a difference in my baking between my homemade and my Mexican? If given as a gift….would others wonder why the sweet smell they are familiar with is noticeably not present? Just curious about your thought???

    1. What kind of vanilla beans did you use? It’s possible you got a bad batch, too–my beans smelled heavenly when I got them and my extract smells heavenly now.

      I don’t know for sure if you’d notice a difference in the flavor or if others would notice. Try a batch of cookies with what you have and see what happens! ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Jennifer, I grew up on Mexican vanilla too and it is the best smell on earth! It is sweet and vanilla-y and delicious. Recently, I had to switch to store-bought vanilla because I live in Washington state and don’t have access to anyone going to Mexico anymore. What I noticed is that no matter the brand, pure vanilla has a strong alcohol smell. The vanilla smell is still there, but it is nothing like the smell of Mexican vanilla. A lot of the sweetness is missing.

      I’ve been switching brands to try and find one I like the best and I can always tell a difference in my baked goods, so I would expect that you would taste the difference too. The most dramatic difference is when I used the last of my Mexican vanilla and then used some McCormick vanilla. It’s not the same. It might not be that you got a bad batch of vanilla beans, it might just be that pure extract is so different from what you’re used to.

      Anyone unfamiliar with Mexican vanilla or who has always used pure extract might not understand the difference. Likewise, could it be that you aren’t used to the way extract smells? Maybe you could try buying a bottle from the store and then compare the smells to see if yours is really bad.

      I miss Mexican vanilla but I think I’m going to have to try making my own! This is an inspiring post!

      1. I had the same concern…last year I made some with extra beans, as I wanted it stronger. I used vodka and the beans smelled good, though a bit more flowery then I was expecting … opened and cut up beans and let it sit for 6 months and now have several bottles sitting in my cupboard that I’m chicken to use for the same reason, that it doesn’t have the same sweet vanilla smell I expected. Then my husband went to Mexico for work and brought me back more vanilla which I love and the smell is what I expect. But maybe soon I’ll have to make two batches of something using both to see if I can taste the difference and get over my fear…cuz I was so so proud to have made it and so I must figure it out ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. Diana – I live in Chehalis. I absolutely love Mexican vanilla and have never found anything like it. What I bought there was also quite darker and richer, and when i added it to something like whipping cream it always made it darker. It never bothered me, I just got used to it. I keep asking for anyone that goes to Mexico to bring some back for me.

  8. Pinned immediately. We don’t drink and our county is dry, so I would have to buy the liquor somewhere else incognito. (Hmmmm… need to start working on my disguise.) This. looks. awesome. And I am thrilled, thrilled I tell you, with the link for relatively cheap vanilla beans! I’ve never considered buying them at the grocery store where they want a contract on your firstborn for them. Thanks, Kate.

      1. Would this be an ok present for my family that is LDS? I don’t want to offend anyone cause of the liquor.

        1. Lot’s of LDS people are fine with vanilla…although I’m sure some don’t realize that vanilla actually has alcohol in it. But the rest of us figure it cooks out right ๐Ÿ™‚ People who aren’t might use vanilla flavoring…but like I said, most don’t worry about it.

          1. Thank you, I’m going to start buying everything to start making them. ๐Ÿ™‚

        2. I wouldn’t worry about it, either. Chances are if they are SO extreme that they wouldn’t be okay with vanilla extract, you probably have a good idea of that already…like I can think of 1 or 2 people that I wouldn’t be comfortable giving this to, and I know a loooot of Mormons. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I love this idea! And I love the mental image of you standing in line with diet coke spilled all over you and giant bottles of alcohol in your cart when your bishop walks up to say hi. Maybe you better give him 2 bottles of vanilla for Christmas to smooth things over. Ha!

  10. I’ve wanted to do this for years but never think about it in time to hand out as Christmas gifts. So thanks for the early reminder!

    I’m a Christmas FREAK so I will try to love you inspite of your confession. And I will try not to feel too guilty knowing that I am one of the people that makes you love it less than you should. My Christmas lights will be on the day after Halloween and I’d have my tree up then too if not for the fact that it’s always live and wouldn’t live long enough.

    So the Martha Stewart labels, can they go through the printer? I’m assuming so since yours are printed but I wanted to be sure.

  11. I am so NOT a rum or alcohol person, but I just have to say, that the rum being Puerto Rican definitely explains the yummy outcome…wink wink! Thanks for this! Homemade vanilla would make an awesome Christmas present for teachers!

  12. Just thought of a question. When you buy vanilla (even the really good stuff) water is one of the ingredients. Do they process it a different way that requires water and does the water evaporate out or is the vanilla watered down? If the water is still in vanilla from the store, is the homemade version enough stronger that you could/should use less than a recipe calls for? Or do you just leave it strong?

    1. I don’t know the manufacturing process for sure, but I’m willing to bet this is more concentrated, especially if it’s been brewing for awhile. You might want to start with a little less and taste as you go, but in my experience, it’s hard to add too much vanilla flavor to your baked goods. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I’m a Canadian Mormon girl, and we have to go to a separate store to purchase alcohol. I’m trying to see if I have it in me to go in there to buy the white rum or vodka. LOL!!

  14. Beanilla.com sells amazing beans. They are a little more expensive, but the quality is superior! We love making homemade vanilla. We did it last year for Christmas and it was a hit! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Yes–just divide them up evenly among the jars and then pour the liquor over them. I used 6 because I split my beans up evenly between the rum and the vodka, but as you can see, my jars aren’t quite full. I’d recommend picking one or the other and then using fewer jars.

  15. Hi, i need to ask you something… Why dont you open the bean in half and but all the beans inside the mason jar together (vanilla bean, beans and liquor). Dont you think the beans inside would give it even more taste? Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You could…but not if you want to use the vanilla bean paste later. Cutting the ends off helps things move faster (if you don’t, it’s a good couple of months to get the vanilla where mine was after a month) because the beans wick the alcohol up like a straw. So really, it’s not THAT much different from cutting them open, plus you get to save the yummy paste for later. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. A few suggestions. It’s much cheaper to buy bottles from specialty bottle (in my opinion) even though you typically have to pay shipping. You can also buy the plastic cover to seal the cap to the bottles.

    Also, you can buy great quality beans from beanilla.com. They sell different varieties and I like to try the others. I have also gotten good beans off eBay…not individual sellers…there’s a few reputable stores that sell through eBay.

    Finally, I just put the beans directly into the liquor bottles and store in a dark cabinet. Then I fill my bottles once it’s brewed. I bought a Carmel Volka to try this year- it smells DEVINE.

    1. I have recently made my own vanilla but used Bourbon instead of Vodka or Rum. The people who directed me to make my own said it has a better flavor than Vodka vanilla. It would be interesting to bake with it and taste the difference.

  17. Oh and by the way…when I went I had to go to a state liquor store. I told the man what I was there for, but he just kept winking and saying, oh yeah yeah I know…vanilla. When I checked out he kept trying to get me to buy minibottles even tho I told him I don’t drink. So.very.very.uncomfortable! And now a bit funny haha. Btw I put a bottle and a cookie recipe in a jar….in a little basket with vanilla sugar for gifts.

  18. I am SO TRYING THIS! And what better time to waltz into a liquor store in Utah than at Halloween time dressed incognito? If I dress as the cowardly lion, maybe it will get my courage up ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the instructions and the sources.

  19. This is fun! We’ve been making vanilla for a couple of years now–but I like brandy the best (I know nothing about alcohol too, but I swear the brandy makes baked goods taste better). Also, I get my vanilla beans off of ebay, which is even cheaper than amazon (I think I paid about $16 for 100 or 150 of them or something like that a couple of years ago–now we just gratuitously throw vanilla beans into everything because they are so so cheap).

    1. Thanks so much for posting this! If you order 50 you can get them for .59 cents. they offer a bulk quantity discount on higher amounts! And… If you live near like me i can go to the store and pick them up and avoid the shipping!

  20. Love, Love this idea!!I am just wondering…what is an average price for the bottle of rum that size? I am trying to figure out my final cost to make sure it fits in the budget! I am so intimidated to buy beer in the grocery store let alone a giant bottle of liquor at the liquor store! Also, you say to get 40 brown bottles…is that how much you made using both the vodka and the rum or just one of them? if i just used the rum how much vanilla would i get in the end?

    1. It was about $20 at Sam’s Club. I bought 40 because they were sold in sets of 20, but with 2 1.75 liter bottles, you can get about 30 4-ounce bottles of vanilla. If you look at the source RK linked to (comment #24), you could order them individually for cheaper.

      Hope that helps! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Yes! Thank you so much! I am going to aroma tools to pick up 50 because the more you buy the cheaper they are and Im sure I will make it again!

  21. Love making homemade vanilla! I gave this as gifts a couple years ago to rave reviews but didn’t save any for myself that time, so I have a jar going at home that’s been three months yesterday and now it’s time to enjoy it. Thanks for the tip on just cutting off the ends – my pods are split, which makes for messy looking vanilla. I’ll be sure to save the pods to dry for vanilla sugar this time too.

  22. Hi!! So excited about doing this but concerned about the expense. Would it be ok to just use 30 beans and one bottle of alcohol. Put the beans directly into the alcohol bottle like another person stated?

  23. Awesome idea! My only fear is that everyone I know will read this and have the same idea too and my awesome Christmas gift won’t be so unique anymore . . . But I guess you really can’t have too much vanilla, right?

  24. One more question, if I bought the cheapest white rum I could find do you think it would be as good?

      1. I don’t drink either, but I have friends who have made it a life goal to become connoisseurs of liquor, so I asked them before I went to the liquor store. Quality matters. If you get a cheap liquor it will have a sharper flavor, especially with “warm” liquors, like rum.

        1. Quality of liquor be it rum, vodka, brandy or anything is important. As is quality of vanilla beans. Quality of product will always cost more so if you go to the time and any dollar amount don’t you want a quality result? Better to give quality 2 oz bottles than 4 oz of lesser qualtiy…we can all buy that level at the store. Same for the vanilla beans….there’s a reason we find cheaper beans on the market; poor quality still has to be sold. And don’t feel the need to explain to the clerk at any liquor store what you are doing, none of their business and that alone draws attention. Again cheap liquor is harsh.

  25. I haven been doing this for over a year and want to chime in with what I have learned:

    1) Buying the cheaper vodka or rum or bourbon doesn’t change the flavor so I can buy a liter for 9 or 10 dollars. 2) You can buy vanilla flavored liquor and really boost the flavor faster. 3) The flavor is so strong that I only have to use half of what the recipe needs. 4) My favorite source for beans is olivenation.com (especially if there is a sale).

    My friends and family love this gift!!! Many have started making their own.

  26. My favorite experience with homemade vanilla was our LDS ward’s “Homemaking Meeting” where we learned how to make it. In the gym. Of the church. Awesome! I think that same evening someone also demonstrated how to force paperwhite bulbs to bloom faster by adding denatured alcohol (or vodka) to the water. So, two trips to the state liquor store were required for that event. It was a banner evening!

  27. We have been making homemade vanilla for years. On several times we have given it out as gifts. What we have done though is just find a nice look vodka bottle. One of our favorites is grey goose because of the pretty picture. We throw in the beans and gift it that way. Have to be careful with those that it might offend but we have learned that lots of our friends and family love watching the process. Then when they get low they just add more vodka to the bottle and it is constantly making more. I have always just done the bean whole with out cutting anything off, might have to try cutting off the ends to speed up the process.

  28. I’m surprised you didn’t mention this in your post, but you can make all sorts of flavor extracts with this method. This past spring a group of sisters from my RS got together at my house for what I dubbed and “Extract Party”. We made of course Vanilla, but we also made Hazelnut, Almond (a note about that to follow), lemon, grapefruit, orange, and mint.

    The quality of the liquor will affect the flavor, so if you are going to the expense of buying the Vanilla beans, you might as well spent a little extra to buy good quality liquor.

    The nuts you can buy in bulk, lightly toast them in the oven then lightly crush them (you want them broken, but chunky) and put in approximately 1/3-1/2 cup of nuts per 4-6 ounces of liquor. A note about Almonds, almond extract from the store is made from bitter almonds, which are poisonous for regular consumption and are not available for retail purchase. They have a significantly stronger almond flavor because they have much larger quantities of the molecule that makes the almond flavor, but the molecule that makes that flavor is attached to arsenic, so they are poisonous. The almonds that we eat also have arsenic, but in because the molecule that makes the almond flavor is very mild in the almonds we eat, the amount of arsenic is safe for consumption. What this comes down to, is you have to use a lot more almonds than other nuts to achieve the desired flavor you are looking for in making an almond extract.

    For the citrus extracts, peel the skin off of the citrus fruit, try to avoid getting the pith, it will make your extract bitter. You’ll want to put in enough peel to very loosely fill your bottle, then fill it up with the liquor.

    Do the same with the mint leaves.

    A note, you’ll want to make sure that the citrus peels and mint leaves are completely submerged. If they are not then the portions that are sticking out of the liquor will begin to rot, if they are completely submerged, they will not spoil.

    As for which liquors to use. Vodka works best for the sharper flavors, like the citrus flavors and the mint, you could go either direction with Vanilla, but Rum is ideal for the warmer flavors, like the nuts and the Vanilla.

    1. I forgot to mention, when you are finally ready to use the extracts made with the nuts (And vanilla, cutting it up into 1 inch pieces will make the infusion process faster) strain it with cheese cloth or a very fine mesh screen before putting it into bottles for giving away or for using in baking, unless of course you don’t mind the little flecks showing up. This is especially true if you don’t skin your nuts before you put them in the liquor.

  29. In a restaurant in Tahiti I ate a savory vanilla cream sauce that made me want to cry, it was so good. Instead I just ate way too much. And it tastes good on steamed veggies, potatoes, pasta, and rice, and scallops and shrimp too. Anyway, use your bean paste for that sometime. And then share the recipe, because there’s not a good one online, and I don’t want to waste my precious paste!

  30. Actually, odds are at least a few of us (besides me) are named Jones! My new baby Penelope was almost Penelope Anne, too.Crazy ccoincidence.

  31. Is there a way to cut this is half? I would love to try this but vanilla beans are very expensive.

    1. Yep, definitely! I would say a good ratio is about 10 beans per quart of alcohol, but you could even cut it down to 5 beans to a pint. And you can keep re-using the beans for about a year.

  32. Did you know that you can make an equally as good, non alcoholic vanilla extract using food grade glycerin. Similar method but split the beans first, scrape out the seeds and add them with the beans to the glycerin. Then let steep for several weeks and decant into bottles when ready. I buy glycerin by the litre and vanilla pods on the internet. Here in the UK, you can buy this type of extract in stores but it is very expensive. So much cheaper to make your own!

  33. Bwhahahaha!!! I totally know how embarrassing it is when you have baking alcohol in your cart (vodka also helps make pie crust flaky), and you run into someone from church. So super awkward!! I love this idea, though! Thanks for sharing.

  34. This is so hilarious ! It reminded me of when our former Stake President’s wife said she always bought beer to rinse her blonde hair with until a missionary came up to her and said she smelled like a brewery ! She quickly stopped doing that ๐Ÿ™‚ A couple of years ago, I saw a male member in the grocery store, and practical joker that he is, sneaked a 6 pack of beer and some other bottles while I was talking to his wife and he covered them up with breads and other items I had in the cart. I then was in a hurry because of the long conversation, and didn’t discover them until the checkout ! Boy, oh boy….that was a good one on me!!

  35. I am very excited to attempt this next project! How many 4 oz bottles does your recipe make? How long are vanilla beans good for? Thanks~

  36. I had no idea that vanilla was made from alcohol! Yuck. Is there a non-alcoholic version that would be just as simple that you can share?

    1. You realize that ALL flavor extracts you buy in the store are made with alcohol, right? If you are baking/cooking with it, the alcohol evaporates out, if you are using it in a non-heated application, the quantity is usually so diluted as to be negligible. Also, a lot of medications have an alcohol base because the alcohol preserves the ingredients in the medication the same way it preserves the ingredients in flavorings.

  37. I have ordered bottles and beans from Beanilla.com There is a lot of information about all the different kinds of beans they carry and a good variety of bottles, different shapes and sizes. Its a great site to check out just for the information they provide.

  38. So I’m a little curious about the laundry detergent for a Christmas gift—is there some story or funny saying that goes with that???

    1. Not really, hahaha. My husband is an engineer for Procter and Gamble in their laundry division, so we have obscene amount of laundry detergent that we could never possibly use. If I were super cool, I’d do something like, “We wish you glad TIDE-ings” or something about Cheer, depending on what we’re giving away. But by the time Christmas rolls around, I’m just lucky if they get delivered. ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. Kate, can I just say that I literally laughed out loud while reading this post. Number one, I also like to give homemade laundry detergent for gifts (and my husband and neighbors think I’m coo-coo for it). I also have lots of half-done gifts when the actual big day rolls around in December and honestly, I just usually end up keeping them or throwing them away, so I don’t have to deal with it. Thank you for making what starting out as a terrible, terrible day (I’ve been up since three, my youngest son looks like he has pink-eye for the second time in two weeks, and my printer is once again not working). Thank you Kate for making me smile today :).

  40. Question- I ordered my bottles and beans last night and will be making these on a much smaller scale. I ordered the 20 count beans. So my question is how many bens per mason jar?? Can I do ten in one and ten in the other?? Please help. My stuff will be here tomorrow!

  41. This is awesome! Just ordered my beans last night! Thanks for this awesome idea and for replying to all of our questions!

  42. So glad to see this post. I had everything prepared to make the vanilla except the alcohol. I had found recipes with different kinds but wasn’t for sure which type to get. Thanks for doing the experiment for me.

  43. This is awesome! Thanks for such a great gift idea ๐Ÿ™‚ One question: the last few recipes I have tried to save to my recipe box have all defaulted to Southwestern Brown Rice Salad (or something) instead of the recipe I’m trying to save… anyone else having this issue? Or Kate, do you know why it might be doing that? As much as I love your Southwestern Brown Rice Salad (yum) I’d really like to get some other ones in my box as well ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks!!!

  44. I’m so sorry if this has already been answered in the comments, but how many beans per mason jar? I’m making a different sized batch than your recipe! Thank you!

  45. HAHA! Ya, I JUST saw the few posts above me that answered my question. AWESOME. Sorry to ask AGAIN!

  46. I have been trying to figure out a cute gift to give for Christmas this year but just wasn’t able to decide what. I looked at all those mason jar things but wasn’t really feeling it. This seems absolutely perfect and in the end I’ll have vanilla bean paste for myself! I think I’ll try the rum version! I was wondering if by chance you knew if using dark rum would work too. I know you don’t drink but was curious if anyone has tried it.

  47. I think the industrial container supply store in Salt Lake City has amber bottles, and many other containers of various shapes and sizes, for very affordable prices. I’ve never ordered from their website because I live close enough to visit the store occasionally. The employees are helpful and friendly. The website is wwww.industrial container.com

  48. Just a note on Mexican vanilla, bought in Mexico. At one time you could buy vanilla in Mexico for a very low price. It does have a wonderful sweet distinctive smell. Please be aware, though, that some Mexican vanilla had/has Coumarin in it…this is also used in rat poison and is toxic to humans. Perhaps this has since been banned, but I would be very careful to make sure of what you are getting before using it.

  49. I’m just curious how much this costs per bottle as a gift as in the cost of bottle, beans, alcohol divided per individual cost? If some one has figured that out I would appreciate it. Thanks!

  50. Kate,

    I must say, the part about running into…who, the Bishop? was awesome. And so embarrassing! I have thought about making my own vanilla, but I think purchasing the alcohol is the thing holding me back, ha ha. Great tutorial. I’ll have to get the guts to do it sometime.

  51. Check your local herb (apothecary) store for bottles. I priced checked both of the sources given here and they were cheaper but the shipping was out of control! I called my local apothecary and the bottles were a little more but was still cheaper because I didn’t have to pay shipping. I saved over $20.00.

  52. Great post! I cut my vanilla open, scrape the vanilla goodness, cut the bean into pieces and add everything to the vodka. That reminds me, I need to make a fresh batch! :o)

  53. Have you made strawberry extract? If so, recipe please. Also, have you added any different flavors such as, lemon, black walnut, etc.?

  54. I’m getting ready to start this fabulous idea today. In the pictures the alcohol looks to just fill the quart jars to about 3/4 of the way. Ia this correct? Or should the alcohol fill the quart jar to the top? Thank you for this unique idea!

  55. Got my vanilla beans (which smell amazing) and little jars in the mail today – Tomorrow this Mormon girl buys the Vodka (I hope I don’t look too nervous going up to the checkout line as I’m looking over my shoulder haha). I’m looking forward to this crafty fun-ness! Mary Christmas indeed…

  56. I am so doing this for the holidays! Like you, I love Christmas, but by the time it gets close I am so over it. I looked at aromatools, and while the bottles were cheap, my shipping was almost $13, making it more than amazon. I ship for an international website myself, and was still surprised at the cost! Off to check this beanilla.com everyone is mentioning!

    1. In comparising bottle prices on both sites, the shipping on aromatools.com was more expensive, but the price overall still ended up being cheaper per bottle because the price of the bottles is much lower than those on Amazon. And in looking at the prices of pure vanilla extract in the store, this is a super economical way to get good vanilla!

  57. I’ve been looking for someone going to Mexico so I can stock up on the “good stuff”. Now I can make it myself! Happy day!! Thank you!

  58. I made this last Dec and never ended up giving it. So now it has been aging for this year. I used vodka but can I add a little Rum too since over time the alcohol evaporates.

  59. Hi! I love your blog! I am making the vanilla and in the recipe it says to cover the vanilla beans
    But in the picture the jar is only about 3/4 full and the beans are not completely covered. Is that right? Also a side note I was born and raised in Louisiana but have been living in Boise for 8 years! ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks , Kim

    1. You can either leave them upright (because you snip the ends off, the beans will siphon it up like a straw) or you can lay them on their sides. And how funny that you were born and raised in Louisiana and that your’e living in Boise, haha! What part of Louisiana?!

  60. So, I ordered the vanilla beans that you linked to about a week ago. When I placed the order, I swear there was something in the item title about it being 60-ish beans. Now, it doesn’t say that and just labels it as 1/2 a pound of vanilla beans, and when my order arrived there were only about 30/35 beans. Is half a pound of beans enough? Or do I need to order another half pound? I hope my question makes sense. Haha.

  61. I just finished making four quarts of the white rum vanilla. When reading your directions it said to cover the vanilla beans, so I filled the rum all the way to the top of the mason jar. However, I notice in the photo’s above, you just filled your jars about ยพ full. I put 15 beans in each of the four jars, will my vanilla be strong enough in two months or will I need to have it sit longer because I added more rum?

    1. Yeah, mine didn’t go all the way up. You can either leave them upright (because you cut the ends off, the vanilla beans will suck up the liquor like a straw) or you can lay them on their side (which I ended up doing). Either way, you’ll be just fine! Good luck!

    2. I was confused, too, when she said to “keep them upright or lay them on their sides”. I thought Kate meant the beans, but when I filled my jars, I finally realized she probably means to lay the whole JAR on it’s side. The lids were on tightly and nothing has leaked out. Now the beans are completely covered. Maybe everyone else understood this, but I thought I would comment since at least three people have asked the same question!

  62. I just received my order of vanilla beans from your link and the 1/2 pound package I got has 90 beans! Also, the unopened vacuum sealed package had a heavenly vanilla scent, but that vanilla scent disappeared as soon as I opened the package! Once out of the package, these beans smell kinda like raisins!! Is that normal??? I went ahead and started my extract using white rum (felt so awkward going to the liquor store, but I bought a 1.75 liter bottle of the same brand you showed in your photo). I put about 20 beans each in 2 quart jars……I used more beans per jar because I figured they must be small since it took 90 to make a half pound, but I’m really ignorant about vanilla beans, so I’m just guessing here!! By the way, I am a huge fan of your blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

  63. I just got my vanilla beans from the link above and only got 24 beans. Still an 8 oz. package, but only 24 beans. Should I still do 5 per jar? or cut them in half? I’m just not sure about the bean/alcohol ratio. Why did I end up with so few beans?

    1. Kristen – the same thing happened to me! Used the link in the directions & I certainly don’t have 60 beans. More like your number, 24 but it says 8 oz. Thx for asking because I have the same questions that you do.

    2. SO WEIRD. You should be just fine with keeping the beans in tact (just cut off the ends) and use the same amount of alcohol. It’s possible that they were bigger beans or that they had more moisture (which also means they were likely more flavorful). Try not to stress too much! ๐Ÿ™‚

  64. This is such a nice idea! I am curious, is there a minimum amount of time to let the beans steep before I put them in the smaller bottles, I wanted to give them for gifts this Christmas, but just got around to putting the beans and liquor into jars tonight. Am I too late? Is 4 or 5 weeks enough if I toss a bean in each 4 oz jar?

  65. I’ve had my vanilla prepared since Halloween, and have it stored in a dark corner of my garage. The color isn’t turning as dark as I expected (I’ve never done this before, so it’s not as if I have a point of reference- haha). Is this normal after a month, or is it possible that the garage is too cold and somehow interfering with the process? I’m in WA state, so it’s not typically freezing here, often in the low 40’s/upper 30’s at night. Guess I have first-time-vanilla-making jitters;-)

    1. Hi, Carrie! I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you! How’s it looking now?

      You know, it’s funny because it seems like a whole bunch of people started around the same time and some of them are ready and some of them aren’t–the only thing I can think is that it’s the beans (or I imagine it could be the cold weather). If it’s NOT ready, there’s no great way to hurry things along, but one of our readers had a great suggestion–put a piece of a bean in each jar and tell them to let it brew for another month or two before using it.

      Anyway, I hope it works! Merry Christmas!

    2. Carrie – I live in Chehalis. i was browsing through the comments because I have exactly the same problem. I made mine in october and was planning on giving them away for Christmas. i got them out after 2 months and they are still somewhat clear and not as dark as I expected. I have it in a food storage room which stays cool and wondered if I should have had them in a warmer area.

  66. I’m ready to print the labels but can’t for the life of me find Penelope Anne or Lavenderia fonts. I’m using the same labels you used. Any clues for this font-challenged gal?

    1. Rhonda, Kate linked to each of the fonts in her post. Just click on the name of the font & it will take you to the site where you can download it.

  67. So I made the vanilla and snipped the ends of the beans hoping this would quicken the process. It smells OK. The color isn’t as dark as store bought but my liquid is cloudy. Should I be concerned? Any suggestions?

    1. Hi, Kathryn! I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you! As far as the cloudiness goes, that’s okay and normal, although you can use a coffee filter to clear it up a little if you’d like. As far as it not being ready goes, I’m copying and pasting a response from above:

      You know, it’s funny because it seems like a whole bunch of people started around the same time and some of them are ready and some of them aren’t–the only thing I can think is that it’s the beans (or I imagine it could be the cold weather). If it’s NOT ready, there’s no great way to hurry things along, but one of our readers had a great suggestion–put a piece of a bean in each jar and tell them to let it brew for another month or two before using it.

      Anyway, I hope it works! Merry Christmas!

  68. Question…I split my beans up between the two bottles of liquor. The color is not as dark as yours, but they have a couple more weeks to brew. I’ve noticed a lot of little bits of “bean stuff” floating around after I shake the bottles. Should I strain it before pouring into the little bottles? Or is all the floating stuff OK??? Thanks for your help!

    1. You could strain it (just use a coffee filter), or leave it like it is, totally your call. As far as it not being quite dark enough, I’m copying and pasting a response from above. ๐Ÿ™‚
      You know, it’s funny because it seems like a whole bunch of people started around the same time and some of them are ready and some of them aren’t–the only thing I can think is that it’s the beans (or I imagine it could be the cold weather). If it’s NOT ready, there’s no great way to hurry things along, but one of our readers had a great suggestion–put a piece of a bean in each jar and tell them to let it brew for another month or two before using it.

      Anyway, I hope it works! Merry Christmas!

  69. I have the same comments as Kathryn Moster and Mindy Rives. I started my batches on Oct. 22 with rum. It’s Dec. 10, and they still aren’t very dark with lots of debris floating in it. Is this normal after about 7 weeks?

    1. Hi, Janet! I’m so sorry it’s taken me a few days to get back to you! This seems to be a common concern, so I’m copying and pasting a response from above. ๐Ÿ™‚

      You could strain it (just use a coffee filter), or leave it like it is, totally your call. As far as it not being quite dark enough, Iโ€™m copying and pasting a response from above. ๐Ÿ™‚
      You know, itโ€™s funny because it seems like a whole bunch of people started around the same time and some of them are ready and some of them arenโ€™tโ€“the only thing I can think is that itโ€™s the beans (or I imagine it could be the cold weather). If itโ€™s NOT ready, thereโ€™s no great way to hurry things along, but one of our readers had a great suggestionโ€“put a piece of a bean in each jar and tell them to let it brew for another month or two before using it.

      Anyway, I hope it works! Merry Christmas!

  70. I’m having the same problem as the commenters above, I started mine the very end of Oct. and my extract still isn’t very dark and doesn’t smell very strong and now I’m trying to figure out what to do for Christmas gifts and hoping I didn’t waste a bunch of money??? I’m not sure what I did wrong?

    1. I am hoping since we all have the same thing going on it’ s normal? Mine is cloudy with speckels.

      1. I am having the same problem. I started mine at the end of October. I did 5 jars. When I open the jar it mainly still smells of alcohol. I don’t really smell a very strong vanilla smell. Plus the jars still seem pretty light. I am getting ready to put my gifts together but I am afraid to give this for fear that it will taste just like alcohol and not vanilla. Should I just cut of a piece of the bean and put it in the jar and tell the people not to use it for another month?

    2. You could strain it (just use a coffee filter), or leave it like it is, totally your call. As far as it not being quite dark enough, Iโ€™m copying and pasting a response from above. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Hi, Suzanne! I apologize for taking a few days to get back to you! Since this is a common concern, I’m copying and pasting my response from above. ๐Ÿ™‚

      You know, itโ€™s funny because it seems like a whole bunch of people started around the same time and some of them are ready and some of them arenโ€™tโ€“the only thing I can think is that itโ€™s the beans (or I imagine it could be the cold weather). If itโ€™s NOT ready, thereโ€™s no great way to hurry things along, but one of our readers had a great suggestionโ€“put a piece of a bean in each jar and tell them to let it brew for another month or two before using it.

      Anyway, I hope it works! Merry Christmas!

  71. I don’t know. The picture posted above says it’s after 1 month and is usable. It is is way darker than my stuff is after 7 weeks.

    One difference I notice is the beans in the pictures are above the top of the liquid. In my jars, the beans are completely covered.

  72. I have had the same issues as most of the recent posts above. My jars were much lighter and only within the last week have turned darker brown. (They also had flecks in the before but you can’t see it now.) I started right away so its been 7 weeks of brewing time. I opened a jar up for the first time today and was disappointed to smell….alcohol. I filled some jars all the way up so the beans were covered and a couple were not filled all the way, and unfortunately there is no difference between the two. And both still smell like alcohol. I did recently cover the jars with a paper bag so they would be completely dark. Not sure if that helped the process or not by making it darker. Now I just need it to actually smell like vanilla and not liquor! I don’t think these will be done in time for Christmas which is a bummer, but I’d rather wait than give something that won’t be done.

    1. You could strain it (just use a coffee filter), or leave it like it is, totally your call. As far as it not being quite dark enough, Iโ€™m copying and pasting a response from above. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Hi, Erin! Since this is a common concern, I’m copying and pasting my response from above:

      You know, itโ€™s funny because it seems like a whole bunch of people started around the same time and some of them are ready and some of them arenโ€™tโ€“the only thing I can think is that itโ€™s the beans (or I imagine it could be the cold weather). If itโ€™s NOT ready, thereโ€™s no great way to hurry things along, but one of our readers had a great suggestionโ€“put a piece of a bean in each jar and tell them to let it brew for another month or two before using it.

      Anyway, I hope it works! Merry Christmas!

  73. I am also having the same problem! Maybe if I split a few beans open??? Ugghhh! I was planning on these for Christmas gifts. Bummer.

    1. Hi, NIcole! Since this seems to be a common concern, I’m copying and pasting my response from above. ๐Ÿ™‚
      You could strain it (just use a coffee filter), or leave it like it is, totally your call. As far as it not being quite dark enough, Iโ€™m copying and pasting a response from above. ๐Ÿ™‚

      You know, itโ€™s funny because it seems like a whole bunch of people started around the same time and some of them are ready and some of them arenโ€™tโ€“the only thing I can think is that itโ€™s the beans (or I imagine it could be the cold weather). If itโ€™s NOT ready, thereโ€™s no great way to hurry things along, but one of our readers had a great suggestionโ€“put a piece of a bean in each jar and tell them to let it brew for another month or two before using it.

      Anyway, I hope it works! Merry Christmas!

  74. Quick question. My vanilla has been sitting for a few months now and I’m just getting ready to pour the the vanilla into the little jars, but there are quite a few flecks/floaties. Did you try and strain them out or just pour them in with the vanilla. The flecks kinda look similar to the flecks you find in vanilla bean ice cream, but some are larger. Thoughts?

    1. Totally your call on straining them out (you could just use a coffee filter). I’m leaving mine in because yeah, they’re the vanilla bean flecks you get in vanilla ice cream and sauces and I think they add character, but if you don’t like the look of them, there’s nothing wrong with straining them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  75. I purchased my bottles from aroma tools, and 14 out of the 24 bottle caps were broken. They are supposed to be sending replacements this week. Somehow the plastic caps broke, but the glass bottles were in tact.

  76. Mine did not turn out. Has been brewing for over 2 months and still smells like rum. Ordered everything off your links too. So dissappointing. I think I’ll add more vanilla beans and hope for the best. Feels like a huge waste of money.

  77. I bought the 10 bean package from Beanilla, followed their directions, and my vanilla has been brewing since Nov. 30. I put 5 split beans into a Starbucks Frappuccino bottle and added the vodka. It is now quite dark, rich looking and I can’t wait for the end of Jan. to decant it into the small bottles I bought, and start using it. I also put one bean into a pint of sugar for vanilla sugar, which is incredible in coffee. My beans were soft, gooey, and fragrant when I opened the package, and I expect great things of them! Grocery store beans have always been dry and shriveled. Very different. I’ll stick with Beanilla. At my age, I probably have enough for a lifetime supply, hah!

  78. I started my vanilla in early November and noticed the same problem of light vanilla that others have noted. After reading all the panicked comments in mid-December, I didn’t bother to decant for Christmas gifts figuring that my neighbors will love receiving the vanilla at any time of year. It’s now mid February and the vanilla is darkening, most noticeably in the last week. I opened a bottle to smell it tonight and it’s lovely. (if I put my nose close to the jar, I can still smell mostly alcohol, but if I back up a bit, it has a wonderful, warm vanilla smell.) I think I’ll let it brew for a couple more weeks since I’m already ridiculously late for Christmas. I plan on attaching the bottles to a bag of chocolate chips and a cookie recipe in time to celebrate Daylight-Savings time; I’m clearly making it up as I go along. ๐Ÿ˜‰ By the way, I live in northern Utah and stored the bottles in my cold, dark storage room. It might have taken a bit longer, but it’s all good. Take home message: don’t procrastinate like I did and start this a couple of months before Christmas. I plan to start it in September this year. Thanks for sharing such a great idea!

  79. I have made Vanilla before with Vodka and it was good not great anyone using Rum and how was the outcome? I am getting ready to start for Christmas gifts this year. With the 60 beans I should get 30 4oz bottles correct?

    1. Raeme,
      I’ve never made it with Vodka, only with Rum and it turned out amazing!! I’m not one to notice a difference on my baking goods if I use butter vs margarine,or expensive vs cheaper ingredients, but I DID notice the difference with the Rum vanilla. I had a couple of friends that also commented on how much they LOVED the Rum Vanilla I gifted them. It’s all I use now!! Give it a try, it’s definitely worth it!

  80. I have wanted to make this since you posted it last year, but I can’t quite bring myself to buy the alcohol!

      1. LOL Lauren- it’s most likely because we’re members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons). Members of our faith abstain from drinking alcohol, so even purchasing it is a little foreign to many of our community! I’m guessing the comments from those weary of this recipe are also Mormon and they simply feel funny about buying big jugs of booze ๐Ÿ˜‰

  81. Living outside of Utah, it was easier to find alcohol (just at Smith’s) but couldn’t bring myself to buy it. We had a friend get us some from the bar she owned and we finally got ours brewing a few months ago! Can’t wait to bottle it up for gifts…or just use it all myself! My husband is impressed that it actually smells like Vanilla now, instead of Vodka! Thanks!

  82. This is the best vanilla ever!! I made it last year and gave as gifts, along with chocolate chips and a recipe. Everyone loved it, and a few even asked if they could have a refill to their bottle. I can’t wait to start a new batch this year!

  83. I don’t remember if I posted the first time this ran, but I’ve been making my own vanilla for a number of years. The last time I bought vanilla beans, I bought a pound so that I could experiment with different types of alcohol. The 5 different varieties I made were with vodka, rum, cognac, bourbon and kirschwasser. I really like the kirschwasser when cooking with fruits. The bourbon and the rum I’m not sure about yet. Though I think Poire Williams would make an interesting vanilla too!

  84. I would like to know if there a way to make your own vanilla without using alcohol? I have found that Trader Joes sells an alcohol-free vanilla, so it is possible. Would you know of a way to extract the vanilla from the vanilla bean without the use of alcohol? I would like to try to make my own almond extract as well, any ideas?

    1. Sorry, we’ve only made it this traditional way.

      1. Someone wayyyyyyyy up there ^^^^^^^ (lol), mentioned using glycerin for an alcohol-free version. Happy scrolling!

  85. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this yet (I didn’t read through the hundred+ comments), but make sure your alcohol COMPLETELY covers the beans. I’m saying this from experience – they will MOLD if left this way too long and will ruin your entire jar of vanilla. You know it’s spoiled when it gets cloudy/not clear. The best way is to chop your beans or split them down the middle. I sell vanilla extract at craft boutiques and online and have been making it for a few years now.

    I’ll definitely be trying white rum! I’ve been using a custom blend of a couple different beans for my vanilla, but if I can get the same results by switching my base, then I will!

    Also, it really, TRULY is best to let it all steep for 3 months. I never touch it before then. It has full-bodied flavor after that time.

    Thanks for posting!

  86. I checked over the comments, but didn’t see an answer to this – how do you prepare the bottles? Do you need to sterilize them somehow? Can you just run them through the dishwasher? Or do you use them straight out of the packaging from the shipper?

    1. I wouldn’t put them in the dishwasher, because often they’re not rated for that high heat. I’ve had a few crack, especially when the bottles I use for my DIY kit. Instead I hand wash in hot, soapy water and let air dry until the inside is completely dry.

  87. I decided to make this to give as gifts this year and ordered my beans from beanilla.com. They came today and I have to say I am not sure they smell right…the smell makes me think of black liquorice! Is that ok/normal?? It isn’t what I expected, especially after others’ said they smell heavenly. Please help!

    1. Mine smelled off to me too. I debated for a while because maybe what I think smells heavenly and what others think is different. So I just went for it. I hope it turns out!

      1. I thought the same thing! Mine did not smell like how I think vanilla beans should smell BUT I put them in the rum and I’m crossing my fingers it works.

    2. It will work out. I made this last year and thought the same thing! However, I’ve been getting compliments all year on the vanilla I made! I think it’s yummy too!

  88. So, I’m a little confused: what is the consensus on the alcohol? Vodka? Vanilla vodka? Rum? White rum? Bourbon? I’m not an alcohol consumer so I don’t know the difference.

  89. Wondering what you know/think about this. I was reading online about how they grade vanilla beans, etc. And according to this site http://www.vanillareview.com/vanilla-information/, US law states that you must have at least 6 beans per 1 cup (8 oz) of alcohol to be legal. He states that otherwise it is basically vanilla flavored alcohol, rather than a true extract.

    1. So it looks like you filled each mason jar with about 2 1/2 cups rum. So that would require about 14 vanilla beans…I think….to be “legal” extract. For anyone who cares ๐Ÿ™‚ I just used 12 beans because I split it up between friends, and there wasn’t enough to do the full 14 beans. I don’t think 2 beans will matter all that much. I’ll just make sure it sits a good long while.

        1. Okay just ignore my comments please! After talking with a couple other people who have made there own….and they all do it differently….and it all turns out and they all like it….I just don’t think it matters that much!! LOL

  90. I am trying the vanilla this year. I have had it brewing/or whatever for 6 weeks now. I used rum. I was just wondering if it would be of any benefit to cut the beans in half. It would allow more flavor to come through it would seem. I am hoping this is good. It still smells like liquor!! Just FYI the other bottles that you reference from Aroma Tools are great. This store is just down the street from where I live. They have GREAT containers. All kinds for oils and such. You may want to check it out. Thanks for your great site. Can’t wait to use my vanilla

  91. Lesson learned….your vanilla will turn out darker if you divide everything up in smaller batches in Ball Jars. Last year I divided the beans evenly and put them directly into the large Rum bottles. I started in early October and by mid December the color was not very dark, but the vanilla still turned out great and I just left a small portion of the vanilla bean in each little jar. This year, I started in late September and used the Ball Jar method and the vanilla is turning out much darker. Just FYI! I will use the Ball Jar method moving forward.

    Also, Kate…what is the typical shelf life of the vanilla? A friend of mine just asked me….she still has some left over from last Christmas. THANKS!

  92. I made some vanilla a couple years ago. Been using it ever since. I made it for myself so I just cut 3 or 4 beans in half, dropped them in a salsa jar, added a cup or so of vodka. As I use it, I replenish with vodka, keeping a cup of vanilla at all times. Periodically drop a new bean in.

    I also made the non-alcoholic version with glycerin. It took a lot longer to steep, though. Since I don’t bake too much, I haven’t used the glycerin version yet.

  93. I have been meaning to post a comment for about a year and am finally getting around to it :)! My friend and I decided to make some vanilla as neighbor gifts last year thanks to your wonderful tutorial! We started in October and although we knew we were starting a little late, we were hopeful everything would turn out. When we checked it a couple of months later, the vanilla had hardly any color to it, so we decided to postpone our gift giving a bit. Well here we are one year+ later and although the coloring is darker, it is still kind of light and doesn’t have an overwhelming vanilla flavor. We followed your directions exactly, but I am thinking something went wrong. Any suggestions on what we could do now? Do you think they are salvageable?

  94. I have been shaking my vanilla religiously for 2 1/2 months now, excited to give it out for Christmas this year! I am just wondering if you filtered your vanilla at all? Mine has little specs in it? My color is also very faint….totally normal right? Thanks….love our best bites!!!!

  95. I followed your directions exactly and ordered the beans from your suggestion and they don’t smell like vanilla at all. I just tasted some of the liquid inside one of them and it was terrible. Do you think the beans are spoiled or should I not give up. I did 5 quarts and I’m ready to pour it down the drain.

  96. SO I have a question about this…I love this and bought everything to make it. I started mine in August (I think). It is still smelling super alcoholly (I think that should be a real word). Should I just let it sit longer or should I buy more vanilla beans? Maybe it makes a difference that I kept mine in the Rum bottles? I’m planning on giving it as gifts at Christmas, so it will obviously sit longer, but because it has already been almost 2 months and still smells that way I am a bit concerned. Don’t want to send my hubby home teaching with bottles smelling so strongly of alcohol.

    1. Sit tight…magical things will happen by Christmas!! ๐Ÿ™‚ When I give mine, I always end up putting about half a bean in each bottle because it only gets better with time. But don’t worry, August will give you plenty of time by Christmas.

  97. I put the recipe together 6 weeks ago, but the brewing vanilla stills smells much more like alcohol than vanilla. It’s an amber color. Should it be getting darker in color and smell more like vanilla? Could the beans not be potent enough? Is this to be expected? Or am I just not patient enough?

    1. You’re going to need more time–it needs a couple months at least (I have some that’s been going for almost 1 1/2 years at this point.) So be patient, but if you’re in a rush, you can aways add more vanilla beans to speed things along.

  98. Chiming in…..I use Bourbon for my vanilla extract and let me tell u something……it’s the only way to go. Yep you can use vodka, but bourbon is way better, and you will get that rich brown color with no food coloring.

  99. the link for the beans is a price that is almost double of what you posted and the link to the bottles no longer works. ๐Ÿ™

  100. Well, mine has been brewing for 3 months, and all I smell is alcohol. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. Are your beans whole? You might want to pull them out, cut them in half, then put them back in. It does take time–one thing I’ve done in the past is I’ve placed half a bean in each bottle so it will continue to brew once you give it away.

      Hope that helps!

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