How to Stock Your Pantry: Homemade Vanilla Extract

How to Stock Your Pantry: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Have you seen the price of vanilla beans lately??? There are many reasons for the drastic spike, but just know it’s very high. You might have noticed it if you’ve shopped for vanilla extract lately. You might have even been tempted to buy the cheap stuff (don’t). I’m personally looking into bulk buying vanilla beans via co-op.

But, in the words of Gale Snoats (extra points if you get this reference), “I’d rather light a candle than curse your darkness.” My solution: make your own vanilla extract! As Gale’s grocer would say, “It’s self-contained and fairly explanatory.”

Coen brothers aside, I’ve been making my own vanilla extract for years, and it couldn’t be easier. It’s also better than most of the things on that supermarket shelf. Here’s how:

Vanilla Extract


  • 1-cup airtight glass jar


  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup clear, neutral liquor such as vodka


  • Slit a vanilla bean lengthwise with the tip of a knife. Scrape out the tiny vanilla seeds with the back of the knife edge.
  • Put the bean and seeds in an eight-ounce (250ml) bottle that has an airtight lid.
  • Fill the bottle with clear, neutral liquor, such as vodka.
  • Seal the bottle and put in a dark, cool place for about three months. After this time, the vanilla flavor will have infused the alcohol and will be strong enough to use in recipes.


My favorite alcohol to use is Myers Dark Rum – I know, it’s not neutral or clear, but the smooth rum flavor really enhances the vanilla. Bourbon and brandy also do the trick nicely.

Just don’t buy the cheap stuff. Most of it contains vanillin, not vanilla, and that comes from wood pulp. It also contains nasty allergens and unsavory substances. Just don’t. Make your own – you have no excuse now!

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