Thursday, October 3, 2013

Making homemade Vanilla....or having a Rager.

It certainly looks like I'm having a serious party...on a 3 in the afternoon.

But upon closer inspection, notice what showed up in my mailbox yesterday.  I may or may not be making homemade vanilla to give as Christmas presents this year.  If you feel you might be getting a Christmas present from me, please promptly forget you ever saw these vanilla beans.  Thank you.

I have never made homemade vanilla, but it's been on my to do list for quite a few years.  So, if you have considered it, but never taken the plunge to actually make your own extract, now's the time to do it.  It takes about 6 weeks to two months to really infuse the alcohol and become vanilla.  So, go on Amazon, if you want to be like me and my buddy Mary from Sweet Little Bluebird who I also convinced to do this!!!  So excited!  Be extra gourmet, just like us. 

I bought my beans from Vanilla Products USA.  They're Bourbon Extract Grade B Planifolia Vanilla Beans.  I'll report back on the quality once I have consumed my vanilla.  In a cookie. Not drunk straight from the mason jar...I think.

I have looked at so many websites and can't really give you a specific source of where I got my information.  Here are several that I compared when figuring out how I wanted to approach this culinary experiment and the ratio of beans to alcohol: Martha: 3 beans per cup of booze 5 beans per cup of booze and then I used the recipe card that Vanilla Products USA included, very thoughtfully in my order which states: 1/4 lb of beans per quart of booze, and then I just decided to make up my own recipe.  I used 3 quarts of alcohol and 1/2 lb of beans split between the three quarts.  I'm pretty close to the 5 beans per cup that Beanilla recommends.

I also researched what kind of alcohol I wanted to use.  You can use Vodka which imparts no flavor to the vanilla or rum or bourbon, both of which will give off some of their essence to the vanilla.  Another site specified Everclear...which I'm not even sure is legal.  So, I guess do what feels right.  I am making three versions, vodka, bourbon and rum so that next time I do this, I'll know exactly what I like.

Start with nice, clean mason jars.  Pour a quart of alcohol in.  Chop off both ends of the vanilla beans.  You want the booze to run through the beans like a straw.  Then I chopped each bean in half.  I threw all the pieces, including the curly ends, in the jar.  Sealed with a clean lid and ring.  Many articles I've read says no need to split the bean lengthwise.  So, I didn't do it.

The bourbon.  Compare it to the vodka in the picture above it.  Don't pay attention to my water spots on the jar.  I just washed it.  Gosh.

Label them.  I do reuse canning lids, in such a case as this where the jar doesn't need to be sealed.  Thank you, gooseberries.

Approximately once a day you should shake your jars, tell your kids to leave mommy's science experiment alone, and get ready for Christmas by thinking about how you want to bottle this elixir up as gifts.  You can choose to leave your beans in once the appropriate time is up, or take them out.  If you leave them in, the flavor will become more complex.  Not sure what that means.

You can squeeze down each bean and release the seeds into your vanilla, and then pop your pods into a bowl of sugar and make vanilla sugar to be used later, as you like.  Or you can leave the seeds in.  So many options.  Not a clue what is the correct thing to do as I've not done it before.  Good luck to us all.

As a final hands smell like heaven from chopping all those beans of goodness!  Yum!

Thanks for reading!!



  1. Vanilla shots all round! I'm interested in what booze other than the vodka tastes like so let us know, fresh vanilla extract in cookies for Christmas yummy

  2. You are so much braver than I would ever be. I can't wait to hear what you think when your experiment is over :). Thanks for all the details, you made this sound wildly fascinating (really!) and attainable even for the non-gourmets like me to try.

  3. I am so excited! I'll let you know when my beans arrive, which should be by Monday! We need to toast ourselves in 6 weeks with a vanilla shot! Or two. Followed by some awesome cookies baked with our homemade vanilla!

  4. Heather, this looks like fun! I think my sister-in-law used vodka, but the bourbon is intriguing to me. I'll be anxious to get your report on the flavors. I do make vanilla sugar every year to use in my hot cocoa.

  5. Heather, Heather, Heather, How do I get on your Christmas list? How wonderful!! I usually buy Mexican vanilla, which has such a superior flavor to the stuff at the grocery store. So I'm thinking if you make your own, it's got to be even better.
    I will join your little vanilla making experiment. I have to get some beans, and I think rum since it's my wait I'll drink the rum and use bourbon to make it...wait, I don't like bourbon, maybe I won't like bourbon vanilla?? Oh well, I'll figure it out. I had no idea vanilla had alcohol in I dumb or what?
    Thanks for an awesome tutorial. I've always wanted to make homemade Kahlua, a friend gave me a recipe years ago, I've never tried it...maybe this is the time since my new friend, that would be you Heather:), showed me how to make vanilla:) thanks!!

  6. I am in for vanilla shots too! Love homemade vanilla....ahem for baking *00* hehe

  7. I had absolutely no idea this was even possible to do. And I didn't know you could get drunk off vanilla. Cough syrup...yes. Thanks for sharing and for cracking me up. As always. :P


  8. That's a really thoughtful present! And lol to the spots, I didn't even notice them but you made me laugh mentioning them. :)

    Have a great Sunday. :)

  9. This is a really nice gift, especially for the gourmet! We have a lot of "I think I'm gourmet" cooks in my family, this would be a perfect gift idea. I'm so pinning this for this year's gifts to make list. I can pull off multiple gifts at once!! Can't wait to hear more of your findings ~ Amy


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