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How to Make Vanilla Extract at Home

Vanilla Extract at Home

The following recipe was created in collaboration with Lauren Schulte. To see more of her bites and meals, visit her Instagram @TheBiteSizePantry

Making vanilla extract at home is a money saver with more flavor! Whether you use it for your own baking or package it up to give to loved ones this holiday season, it never expires, so it truly is the gift that keeps on giving!

There are so many reasons to make your own vanilla extract. Here are a few key selling points.

  • Fresh vanilla beans will last for two batches. So, when you run out, refill the bottle with vodka and use the beans for another batch.
  • It does not expire as long as it is stored in a cool, dry place.
  • When packaged in small jars and containers, it makes a great gift for friends, family, neighbors or hosts and hostesses.
Vanilla Extract at Home

Making vanilla extract from scratch requires only a few simple things that you probably already have at home. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Vanilla beans. These can be found in the baking aisle at your local Heinen’s. For optimal flavor, use 4-5 vanilla beans for every 8 oz. (1 cup) of vodka.
  • Alcohol. 80 proof vodka is preferred, but if you’re looking to get creative try brandy, rum or bourbon.
  • Glass Jars. Mason jars are great if you’re keeping the vanilla extract for yourself. If gifting homemade vanilla extract, 4 oz. glass jars are perfect. Use dark glass or clear glass bottles. If using clear glass, store the vanilla in a cupboard or dark place.
Vanilla Extract at Home

Now that you know what you’ll need to make homemade vanilla extract, it’s time to talk about the process, which is only three simple steps!

  • Using a sharp knife, gently cut slits in the vanilla beans, lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through the beans.
  • Place the vanilla beans in the glass jar(s). If the beans do not fit, cut them in half. The goal is for the beans to be fully submerged when the vodka is added. Use a funnel, if needed, to fill the jar(s) with the vodka. Secure with lids and shake gently.
  • Vanilla extract needs time to rest to develop flavor. A longer rest time results in deeper color and, more importantly, better flavor. I recommend waiting a six months before using.
Vanilla Extract at Home
By Heinen's Grocery Store
In 1929, Joe Heinen opened the doors of a small butcher shop on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, aiming to establish himself as the city’s purveyor of quality meats. As customers came into Heinen’s new shop for their meat purchases, they began asking him to carry groceries as well. Joe added homemade peanut butter, pickles and donuts and by 1933, business had grown enough to include a line of produce and canned goods. Heinen’s Grocery Store was born.

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