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Coco&Me » Blog Archive » Homemade vanilla extract

May 31st, 2008

Homemade vanilla extract

Homemade vanilla extract Recipe - Coco&Me(I made three bottles – with vodka, brandy & rum to experiment. In 5 weeks time I’ll know which one came out best!)
Homemade vanilla extract Recipe

(I used clear glass jars despite the “instructable” suggesting to use dark glass to protect the extract from direct sun exposure. I’ll put them in a dark cupboard instead!)
Do you have half-consumed bottles of vodka (or brandy or rum) sitting in your cupboard that’s been long forgotten about? Well, here’s an idea. You can infuse them with vanilla pods to concoct yourself a superior homemade vanilla extract.
Y’see, now that I’m walking around the house with a baby sling instead of partying like an animal (!?), I decided that I might aswell turn these forgotten alcoholic beverages to good use, by baking it in to cakes & stuff. Much more useful – having a boozy vanilla extract instead…

The supermarket price VS the cost to home-make:

A bottle of bog standard vanilla extract off the supermarket shelf can be pricey at around £4.00 for a measly 100ml. As for purchasing just ONE pod, it ranges from £1.44 for the cheapest to an extortionate £2.26.


I figured out that this project could turn out a tad expensive. The recipe requires 30g of pods (8 to 10 pods) to 250ml. Thats hell-of-a-lot of pods… If you buy pods off-the-shelf for this, it’s like over 14 pounds for the pods, then you gotta think of how much the alcohol would cost on top of that!

Luckily, my homemade brew costs a lot less in comparison, as my vanilla pods are cheap (I got mine from a wholesaler at £75 for 1kg), & as for the alcohol, I worked out that it costs just over £1 for 100ml. To make a 250ml, it’ll probably cost me just under 3 pounds.
For the recipe, I followed the “instructable” & its author’s website it links to. (“Instructable” is a website where passionate people share what they do & how they do it, & learn from others. – I love whiling away my time browsing the often bizarre & original food ‘instructables’. The recent ‘I-wish-I-came-up-with-that-idea’ I found was to use a playdough extruder to make long square rods of cookie dough to make pixel patterned cookies!!)
The instructable goes to great lengths to document the recipe for vanilla extract, & I’m not even gonna try to emulate.


But here’s the RECIPE, nut-shell version:

Homemade vanilla extract Recipe

  • 1. Sterilize the bottle(s) by boiling them for 10 minutes.
  • 2. Work out how many pods you need. It’s 30 grams (8-10 beans) per 250 ml of 40% alcohol.
  • 3. Split the pod lengthways, scrape the beans & put both pod-skin & beans in to the bottle. Here, it’s best to chop the pod-skin in to fourths so it stays submerged in the alcohol.
  • 4. Fill with alcohol (vodka most recommended, else, brandy or rum).
  • 5. Tightly shut the lid & vigorously shake the bottle.
  • 6. Shake everyday for the first week. And in weeks 2, 3 & 4, shake the bottle a few times a week.
  • 7. Week 5: Ta-daaa! You’re now a proud owner of alot of vanilla extract!

Note: Shake the bottle if you want the seeds/ beans in your recipe. And top-up with more alcohol if the pod-skin gets exposed. After 6 months you can take the pod-skins out as the extraction has finished by then.


UPDATE 17.07.08

using vodka for the extraction was best. The rum/ brandy, the distinct smell of the alcohol overpowered the delicate vanilla scent. Read the results of the vanilla extract experiment here.


  1. Hmmm….been meaning to do this forever and now that I have a half-full bottle of inferior vanilla extract, I think it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. I’ll see if I can wait until you’re finished your vodka vs. brandy vs. rum experiment.

    Comment by Mari - May 31, 2008 12:11 pm

  2. Hello Mari.
    Yeah, it was one of the things that’s been on my ‘to-do’ list for a long time… I’ll let you know the outcome of the alcohol-battle!

    Comment by tamami - May 31, 2008 3:36 pm

  3. I can’t wait to see which one wins!
    xxx fanny

    Comment by fanny - May 31, 2008 6:23 pm

  4. Hello fanny! I’m reckoning the rum would be the tastiest… we’ll see I guess!

    Comment by tamami - May 31, 2008 9:58 pm

  5. Your experiment sounds great. I can’t wait to see the results.

    I really like the illustration of the extract process, may I post it to my site?

    Comment by ian - June 1, 2008 12:57 pm

  6. Oh! Hi!? The instructable author himself!
    Nice of you to drop by. Ofcourse you can download the illustration – I’d be honoured.
    BTW, I think your passion for getting deep in to vanilla-knowledge is great! You’ve made the extract-makinng-process easy to understand for people like me! Thank you.

    Comment by tamami - June 1, 2008 1:41 pm

  7. Can’t wait to hear about the results – my money’s on the rum too! (btw if you have any vodka left over and you’re looking for other ways to use it up, I’ve seen a few risotto recipes that call for vodka in place of wine…)

    Comment by Rachel - June 1, 2008 8:07 pm

  8. Hi Rachel.
    wow, vodka in risotto huh?? Never heard of that one before!

    Comment by tamami - June 1, 2008 9:08 pm

  9. I’ve always wanted to make my own vanilla extract, so I’ll be watching for the results of your experiment. What fun!

    Comment by Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) - June 2, 2008 6:01 pm

  10. Hello Lydia! I could’ve sworn you must have made a vanilla extract before, so I’m surprised to hear you haven’t yet! It’ll be great addition to your perfect pantry! ^^

    Comment by Tamami - June 2, 2008 6:54 pm

  11. HI Tamami,

    I made mine using brandy – that’s what I had at time… it works very well with dark golden of color of brandy.

    Also, I have the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla to compare… I found that the Nielsen-Massey’s is a bit sweeter and I read somewhere I can’t recalled that has some sugar added but I didn’t do it of course. I used the homemade vanilla extract most of the time (can’t afford to use too much the Nielsen-Massey’s :-D )

    I managed to bought from a wholesaler in Belgium, 250 g Madagascar Vanilla Bourbon for 54 Euros. Now, my home country is producing it too. I hope to get some of them to test the quality…

    Instructables is also my favvourite site too!

    Comment by pixen - June 3, 2008 4:37 pm

  12. BTW another way is use Eau De Vie of above certain % ( i think 35 % or 45 %) for the extract.

    I kept mine (brandy version) for 3 months + above and as I used it I topped it up with more brandy to make sure the vanilla is soaking below the alchohol level

    Comment by pixen - June 3, 2008 4:42 pm

  13. Hi Pixen. Instructable is cool indeed. I’m glad to hear that your brandy version works well – I can’t wait for 5wks long for it to extract! (I may have to open it once in a while & sniff…)

    Comment by tamami - June 3, 2008 9:20 pm

  14. This is nice. Can do a vanilla sugar too..

    Comment by Maco Tye - June 13, 2008 3:09 pm

  15. Thank you Maco Tye!

    Comment by tamami - June 13, 2008 5:02 pm

  16. Hey there-

    This looks very interesting!! Just stopping by to say HI! Love your blog!

    Comment by Prudence - June 20, 2008 4:09 am

  17. Hello Prudence!
    Thank you for stopping by! Hope to hear from you again. xx

    Comment by tamami - June 20, 2008 8:43 am

  18. Hi Tamami!

    Glad to see you’re back blogging. I can’t wait to find out which extract is best too, so I can just skip the other two and get to work on making that one!

    Happy to see that you are sounding and looking well x x x

    Comment by Jan - July 13, 2008 9:52 am

  19. Hi Jan! How lovely to hear from you. Will let you know which one is best another time. – We’re all doing fine our end. The little ‘un growing so- fast!! xxx

    Comment by tamami - July 13, 2008 11:54 pm

  20. I’ve made vanilla flavoring with vodka and cognac, although I’ve never tried making it with rum. My favorite is the one made with cognac. It has a greater range of flavors and is much mellower.


    Comment by Sheltie Girl - February 1, 2009 11:00 pm

  21. Hello Natalie,
    oooh, with cognac? That is a great tip – I’ve got loads of cognac sleeping in the drinks shelf! Cheers!

    Comment by tamami - February 1, 2009 11:05 pm

  22. Hi Tamami,

    I discovered your blog a few months ago through Clotilde’s blog. Thank you for the scrumptious recipes. I started my vanilla extract this past weekend and am eagerly looking forward to being able to use it!

    Happy baking!

    Comment by Meghan (Radishes&Butter) - March 3, 2009 11:11 pm

  23. Hello Meghan, thank you for mentioning me on your blog. I also like a really good butter with salt crystals!! – I hope your extract works well! I have already finished using one of my bottles!

    Comment by Tamami - March 4, 2009 10:24 am

  24. I made it (with vodka) and I used it yesterday, after 4 weeks. P e r f e c t!!! My chocolate cake smells like heaven! Thank you very much, again, for sharing your wonderful ideas!

    Comment by Dimitra - April 24, 2009 7:42 am

  25. Hi Dimitra! I finished mine ages ago – you’ve reminded me to make more!!

    Comment by tamami - April 27, 2009 11:20 am

  26. Hi Tamami! I love your blog! I’m starting my own vanilla extract this week with organic vanilla pods from this company: http://www.organic-vanilla.com, I’ve read a lot of good reviews about them and they have really good prices.

    I am living in Spain right now but I hope to visit your stall some day!

    Comment by anna - June 23, 2009 11:22 am

  27. Hello Anna – I’m so sorry about the late reply – your comment managed to escape my attention…! I hope your vanilla extract is brewing nicely!! Xxx

    Comment by tamami - July 10, 2009 4:30 pm

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    Comment by Tiffany Brooks - May 2, 2010 8:38 am

  29. bookmarked! :)

    Comment by Flash - July 19, 2010 7:18 pm

  30. Ta!!

    Comment by tamami - July 20, 2010 11:25 am

  31. […] breezed past a few posts about making vanilla extract, but it wasn’t until this one a few days ago that I realized how […]

    Pingback by Vanilla Bean (too many links, not enough pictures) « wake up, little sushi. - December 3, 2010 12:55 pm

  32. Thanks for the mention!!!!

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  34. Wii, thank you!!!! I hope to hear from you again!!

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