Homemade Vanilla Extract, E.A.T. #21 and The Need to Make Stuff


Pure Vanilla Extract is one of the simplest & most appreciated gifts to give cooks. Bulk vanilla beans can be purchased online easily these days and combined with a good bottle or two of vodka or bourbon you have everything you need to make multiple bottles of richly flavorful Vanilla Extract is just a few weeks.


I have been thinking about why I like to make things a lot lately. As a child I made things with my hands all the time…little pieces of art or make-believe foods from mud, grass and sicks…pot holders and paint-by-numbers..my hands always busy and engaged.

I am like that to this day. I am pretty sure it is because the act of making  stuff is something I can control in a world where so much is absolutely, insanely out-ot-control.  When my hands and mind are engaged in a project I am more at peace and able to sort through my thoughts in a more calm manner. At the end of the process I have something to show for this time spent. An art piece, a cake or loaf of bread, a bottle of pure vanilla extract. Making stuff to share. We all have to find our way do we not? What is your method?


I split the beans…about 25 or so and add them to 6 cups vodka or bourbon. Add a tight-fitting lid and wait…..a small lesson in patience…..


….in  a few weeks (2 to 4) you’ll have lots of pure vanilla extract. I keep my jar in a closet and shake it every few days to help release the vanilla bean seeds….week by week the color darkens to a deep amber.


I add a few of the vanilla beans to each bottle after I decant the extract. The vanilla flavor will just keep getting better.


Make stuff, share stuff….it’s as easy-as-this.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 6 cups good Vodka or Bourbon
  • 25 vanilla beans, split
  • 1 large glass jar with tight-fitting lid
  • various decorative bottles with tight-fitting lids for decanting extract


  1. Pour 6 cups vodka/Bourbon into a large glass jar.
  2. Add split vanilla beans. Top with lid and shake.
  3. Keep in a dark closet or cabinet for 2 to 4 weeks, shaking jar every few days.
  4. Decant into decorative bottles. Add a few of the split beans to each bottle. Add tops and your ready to give away as gifts to your friends who love to bake. Bon Apetit!

Teresa Blackburn          www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      www.foodonfifth.com

18 thoughts on “Homemade Vanilla Extract, E.A.T. #21 and The Need to Make Stuff

    1. I know! Who knew? Well I did actually as I have done another blog on this very subject but this time of year I use so much vanilla when baking that it seems appropriate to blog on it again. Happy December.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Lulu….well this year is the first time I have made a few bottles using bourbon which gives the vanilla extract a totally different flavor profile…I thought it was fun to try something different, but both types are fantastic and easy and make great gifts.

  1. Oh, Teresa – 25 vanilla beans! I’d be in heaven! And I just love those gorgeous jars! 🙂 Beautiful post, and I’m sure you’re going to have some very happy friends!

    1. When I got the package full of those vanilla beans I felt absolutely thrilled…so many in one place at one time! I felt very special and hopefully my friends will be happy with the use of put all those lovely beans to. Happy Holiday.

      1. 🙂 I can imagine how good the kitchen smelled! Now tell the truth – were tempted to roll around on them like I’ve seen people do on tv with money, lol!!

  2. I just add all my vanilla pods after I used the seeds to a jar filled with Vodka. After several months I take out the pods , dry them and grind them with sugar to make vanilla sugar. Your images are stunning.

    1. Yes that is just the best way to reuse and not waste those lovely beans…I made vanilla sugar one time as well and just love it. Thanks for reminding me and thanks for your kind words on my photos. Happy Holidays.

  3. I had never considered making vanilla essence myself! Also, I didn’t realise it was made with alcohol… which do you prefer? I would have thought you get a purer vanilla flavour with the vodka, because it has less flavour than bourbon..?

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