Picture this – you’re in the grocery store and your healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for pure vanilla extract but you’re trying to save money on groceries and the imitation vanilla is much cheaper. What do you do?
Good news. You never have to choose between pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla extract again.
By following this simple recipe, you will learn to make your own homemade pure vanilla extract for less than the cost of the store bought imitation.
Making homemade vanilla extract is easy and cost effective.
Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 bottle (750 ml) of 80+ proof vodka, rum, or bourbon (80 proof = 40% alcohol)
- 12 vanilla beans (find vanilla beans here)
- Cutting board
- A sharp knife
- A funnel for pouring vodka between bottles (find stainless steel funnels here)
- Amber glass bottles for storing the vanilla (find small amber glass bottles here)
Process for Making the Extract
Using the funnel, remove approximately ½ cup of vodka from each bottle to make room for the vanilla beans. Using your cutting board and knife, slice each vanilla bean lengthwise along one entire side of the bean. Place the beans in the vodka bottle, replace the lid, and shake. Store the vanilla for 2-3 months in a cool, dark place.
Shake the vanilla once per week to agitate the beans and speed the extraction process.
Making your own will save money
The cost savings for this project depends on the quantity being made. I made 76 ounces using 3 – 750ml bottles of vodka and ¼ lb of vanilla beans, which provided the following savings:
Store bought cost
One 2-ounce bottle of store brand pure vanilla extract cost $4.99. Total cost = $2.50/ounce.
Homemade cost (at time of writing)
Three bottles of vodka (“a fifth” or 750ml) cost $10 each for a total of $30. 750ml x 3 = 2250ml which is equivalent to 76 ounces. ¼ lb of vanilla beans (approximately 36 beans) is equivalent to 4 ounces and cost $10. Based on these calculations, 76 ounces of pure vanilla extract cost $40. Total cost = $0.50/ounce. Imitation vanilla costs approximately $1.00/ounce. This reveals that homemade vanilla extract is 5 times cheaper than store bought pure vanilla and twice as cheap as imitation vanilla.
Pictures of the Project
When we began…
When we finished…
How things look after one week of storage…
Based on the ease and savings of this project, making homemade vanilla extract is a great way to save money and be sure you’re getting a high quality product!