Homemade Vanilla

For almost a year, I read about making vanilla flavoring.  I've read all the good, bad and ugly on making it with alcohol and without. They both have all three.

Have you seen the price on vanilla lately? If not, it is through the roof. For me, making vanilla is partly a frugal thing but I also like to know exactly what is in our pantry items.

If you are buying vanilla in the stores, then you are buying a watered down version. Read the label. Check for cloudiness. I bought two bottles at the BOGO sale at Sprouts not too long ago. I was extremely disappointed  at the cloudiness in the bottle. I knew there was water in it because I read the label. But I didn't expect the vanilla to separate. Anytime I used it, I had to shake the bottle. 

I weighed the traditional alcohol method along with the non alcohol method and for us, spending money on the glycerin (non alcohol method) was sending money up the chimney.  Depending on your beliefs, I recommend researching both methods and doing what you feel led to go with.

Homemade Vanilla

In our area, vanilla beans are a little difficult to find locally. I called Trader Joe's and several local health food stores and they did not carry any. I did find a tiny package of beans (6 beans) at our local Earth Fare. I paid $12.00 for those beans in January and I'm looking at Mountain Rose Herbs for my next purchase.

In January, my husband saw the price factor for vanilla. He was a little shocked over the price per ounce on the store brand not the national brand name. He finally decided it was time to take the step into making our own vanilla. When we left the grocery store, we headed over to the other store and he bought a bottle of vodka. You can use different types of alcohol like rum and bourbon but I went with the vodka because I didn't want any other flavor in mine. Bourbon vanilla flavoring has nothing to do with the alcohol, it's the type of bean.

Vanilla flavoring is super easy to make even though it takes time for it to flavor. I was so excited about my little jar of flavoring, that I only waited about 2 1/2 weeks, before trying it. **Wait at least 6 weeks ~ if you don't drink alcohol, trust me on this one!** Let me tell you, once it has flavored, you will find things to bake just so you can use it. It's that good! If you're like me, and love vanilla then you'll put it in just about everything.

All you need to make your own batch is the alcohol, vanilla beans and glass jars. For this batch, I used 2 half pint mason jars.

I took the vanilla beans and split them from the top down to the bottom of the bean. I did not cut the top or bottom off, I just left them. Next, I scraped the pods so the tiny beans would come out in the vodka. I placed 3 beans in each jar and poured the vodka over them. Remember these are half pint jars for the 3 beans. After putting on the lid, I placed the jars in a cabinet and took them out each day and gave them a swirl. I did this for about 2 weeks.

After a day or so, you should see the color of the liquid changing and after about 3 weeks, you can begin to smell the vanilla.  In my jars, I have left the beans in, just so the vanilla will keep flavoring. After a while, I'll take them out and add them to the other jar. This will be so when I add more liquid, there will be more "weaker" beans working together to strengthen that jar. ~ I hope that made sense.

If I have family members reading this, act surprised when you get your Christmas gift.

Pure vanilla is now on my list of items that I will not have to buy any longer.


  1. I am glad to see your post, I had thought about this but could not get past the alcohol. Now I will talk to hubby and pray and maybe try this.

    1. The alcohol was really never a problem for us, because when you buy real vanilla in the store, it's alcohol. But I do understand the idea of having "liquor" in the house. The last little bit of the vodka is put up way, way, way out of reach. Until I posted this, no one other than us 3 knew it was even in the house.:)

  2. We just made our own not long ago too. I didn't say anything to anyone for a while because of the vodka in it. Everyone around us knows we don't drink - but there were a few that couldn't get over the alcohol factor. It's funny how nobody stops to think about how real vanilla from the store is made with alcohol.

    When we made it, we went in with a friend and made two QUARTS at a time. That was one big bottle of vodka in my house! But we used pretty much all of it for the vanilla, and she took the rest home with her since there was a tiny bit left.

    We too like knowing exactly what is in our food, and it is a lot cheaper this way. We got our beans off ebay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-ONE-LB-Madagascar-Bourbon-Org-Extr-Vanilla-Beans-6-7-/230688786581?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b61f8895#ht_3398wt_1037) I think that's the one we got, anyway....

    It took just under half the beans for the two quarts of vanilla, and we used a couple for vanilla sugar (SO GOOD!!!).

    1. I was a little skeptical writing a post about it, I knew we would have people "concerned" with the alcohol. Funny, I had several ladies at church who read my blog, told me about another couple in the church making their own also. They even told me that they are now thinking about it.

      When I order the next beans, vanilla sugar is on the list for me to make. I read somewhere about making it and I wanted to do it in January, but I didn't have enough beans.

      Thanks for the link, I'll have to check their prices.


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