McCormick is a gimmick – DIY Vanilla Extract

I don’t even know how/where to put this in the count. Adam and I started it in 2011. It’s probably the longest running recipe we’ve ever done.

So, why make your own vanilla extract? Everything is a trade between time and money – you can spend money in order to not spend your own time, or spend time in order to not spend your money. Assuming you have the skills/knowledge/tools to do it in the first place. Well, vanilla extract takes practically no time, no skills and is cheaper than store-bought vanilla extract. Easiest recipe ever. 5 minutes in the kitchen.  Max.

I found the idea/recipe in the end of 2011. In March 2012, we bought hippie vodka, a couple vanilla beans (totally not enough – we bought more later and the next batch(es) will use more than 2), sliced the beans open, shoved them in the vodka and stuck it in pantry. That bottle of vodka moved with us from North Carolina where I was in grad school up to Maryland – you see, we thought we were running out of the store bought extract soon enough that we’d be able to start using it in like April. May at the latest. NOPE, nope, nope, nope. We cracked that extract open, started using it, and poured the ‘daily use’ amount into the old store-bought extract bottle in August 2013.  Good stuff. No, really, it’s pretty darn tasty.

Vanilla Extract

original idea from Hints from Heloise

Makes 750 mL

  • 750 mL vodka -or- white rum
  • 5 vanilla beans
  1. Carefully cut open each vanilla bean lengthwise. Add beans to the vodka; seal bottle.
  2. Allow to sit in a dark, enclosed space for at least 30 days. Taste to see if it is strong enough. If not, continue to allow to sit until satisfied with the flavor.

As the extract is used, you can replace the liquid by adding more vodka or rum. Continue until the flavor is not strong enough for your tastes – use what’s left and make a new batch.

The are all sorts of ways to do this – I’ve seen recommendations to stick a single vanilla bean in 1 cup of vodka or bourbon (or whatever alcohol you like?), 1/2 liter of vodka mixed with 1/2 liter of bourbon or whiskey, as many vanilla beans as you can shove in… Really, it sounds like any combination of vanilla beans and vodka or bourbon you put together should work, it’s all a matter of taste.

Total cost of materials? about $17 for the vodka, another $12 (ish?) for the vanilla. That’s about $30 for 750 mL vanilla extract, or 4 cents per milliLiter. Beat that McCormick.

So, what do I mean by hippie vodka?
Swing-top closure, American grain, advertised as ‘eco-friendly’, 85% recycled (70% post-consumer) glass for the bottle, labels made with ‘100% post-consumer waste paper’, ‘send us the cap back when you’re done with it!’ vodka.

Hippie VodkaHippe Vodka


One thought on “McCormick is a gimmick – DIY Vanilla Extract

  1. Pingback: Winter Berry Pie – Who knew? | The Kitchen Chemist & the Cook

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