We’ve had several people reach out to us recently to ask if there is still time to make a batch of homemade vanilla extract before the holidays arrive. The answer to that is, YES!
Homemade vanilla extract is extremely easy to make and is the perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer. It also makes the world’s best real whipped cream.
We usually let our extract steep for about two months, as this will produce a more intense vanilla flavor without any extra effort on our part. We just slice the beans down the center, place them in a half-gallon jar, fill it with vodka, and tuck it away in the back of our pantry.
However, in a pinch we have made a batch in about four weeks, which is a good minimum to follow to make a good-quality vanilla extract – you’ll just have to give it a little more love along the way. To help speed up the extraction process, we recommend cutting the beans into halves or thirds, and scraping some of the seeds from the beans into the mixture after slicing them lengthwise. We also encourage you to shake the jar at least once a day during this shortened process.
I usually purchase a quarter or half-pound of grade A Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, and have had very good results with both Amazon.com and Beanilla.com. Remember: the word “Bourbon” is used only because that is the name of the island on which the vanilla beans were harvested – it does not indicate the liquor used in the extract.
We have always used vodka in our extract, but you can play around with bourbon, rum, and brandy. If you’re feeling really adventurous, there are also several different types of vanilla beans to try, including Tahitian, Mexican, and Indonesian. Someday, I’m going to get crazy with vanilla…
We use the 4 oz. Amber Boston round glass bottles for our gifts.
For the homemade labels we use Avery “marketing solutions” labels, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all customizable with Avery’s online design software, which is free and easy to use.
So don’t worry, you have plenty of time to make your own Homemade Vanilla Extract to have ready by Christmas. In fact, there’s also still time to make a batch of Homemade Limoncello, too. What are you waiting for?