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Homemade Vanilla Extract

It’s very easy to make vanilla extract at home—and it’s so good! Try using a combination of different kinds of vanilla for a flavor that’s uniquely your own. The optional vanilla extract in this recipe helps boost the flavor quickly, but it’s not required. Decanted into a bottle, this homemade vanilla extract makes a very special gift.–Nina Wanat

LC Patience Isn't Just A Virtue Note

What drew us to this particular vanilla extract recipe is the fact that whereas most homemade vanilla extracts draw on either brandy or vodka, this draws on both for an unparalleled measure of complexity—which may initially be mistaken for intensity if you happen to take a whiff too early in the extract’s existence. Rest assured, the booziness will mellow with time and, consequently, the vanilla notes will slowly but surely become more prominent. Trust us. The only trick to this little DIY project is that patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s a must. So if you’re gifting bottles of the extract before its time is nigh, jot down a “Do not open until [INSERT A DATE THREE MONTHS HENCE]” note on a tag and attach it to the jar or write it on a sticker and affix it to the bottle. It just builds the anticipation.

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • 1-quart glass jar with lid

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups brandy
  • 1 2/3 cups vodka
  • 5 vanilla beans, preferably Tahitian or Bourbon, split and seeds scraped
  • 3 ounces vanilla extract, preferably Tahitian or Bourbon (optional)

Directions

  • 1. In a 1-quart glass jar, combine the brandy, vodka, vanilla pods and seeds, and vanilla extract, if using. Place the lid on the jar and let the mixture sit in a cool, dark place for at least 3 months. If a slightly more intense flavor is desired, add spent vanilla pods that’ve had their seeds scraped for other recipes as the pods become available.
  • 2. If gifting the extract, decant it into small bottles. The extract will last indefinitely.
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