Monday, July 20, 2009


Quite a while back, in the Deal of the Day section, I linked you to a site selling vanilla beans and I told you to buy some because I would soon be teaching you how to make homemade vanilla.

You didn't buy any did you?

*sigh* OK. Here's the company:

Buy the "shorts" of either Tahitian or Bourbon. It really doesn't matter much, in my opinion.

Now, while you wait for your vanilla beans to arrive, go to the store and buy a fifth of Vodka (750ml) It does not have to be the best of the best. I've used Smirnoff in the past, this time I'm using some brand I've never heard of from Walmart that cost me less than $9.

These are the things you need to make your vanilla:

So that would be your vodka, your beans, a knife, a cutting board and a paper bag. You'll need your sink too, but I figured if you have an Internet connection, chances are good you have a sink and so I didn't need to put it in the picture.

Wash your beans, then split them open, leaving the tops and the bottoms closed, essentially just splitting the middle, like so:

Got it? Easy, right?

Now unscrew the cap on your bottle and dump the beans in. My bottle overflowed a little. No biggie. I actually ended up dumping a tiny bit more out so my beans would move a little when I shook the bottle.

Now, put it in a paper bag (mine is custom decorated by Peanut. Yours cannot possibly be this fancy) and stick it in the darkest corner of your pantry.

Looks like a wino parked his loot in your pantry, no? And that is a dark corner, I swear, but the flash was on. Between the bag and the pantry, the bottle should be nicely in the dark.

Shake it up every few days. Really, even if you forget, it's OK. It's pretty hard to mess this up. Just shake it up when you do remember.

So what is the point of this? I mean, if vanilla comes conveniently in a bottle at the same darn store where you bought the vodka, why go through all of this trouble?

3 big reasons:

1) It's not really any trouble. The actual making of the vanilla takes 5 whole minutes. You can find 5 minutes for this, can't you?

2) It makes your baking taste so freakin' delicious. Seriously, my neighbor comes over and steals my vanilla ALL THE TIME because it's so good and makes his baking super yummy. He pays me in baked goods. I finally just gave him a package of beans and some vodka. He was the happiest senior citizen I've ever seen. I was getting too fat for that trend to continue.

3) Do you know how much really good vanilla costs in the store? Holy cow, is it expensive! Let me put it this way: if you search the net for pure vanilla extract, you will find that just 8oz can run you as much as $34! The cheapest I found was $15 for 8oz and that is about what I paid to make just over 25oz of completely awesome vanilla extract. Even the cheapo stuff at your local grocery store (read the label, it has water in it and maybe other things as well) isn't inexpensive. Making your own is a much, much better deal.

You have to be a little patient. The absolute earliest it will be ready to use is after 8 weeks. The longer it sits the better. I have some in my pantry right now that has been sitting for 2 years and it is DIVINE! By the time I get to the bottom of that bottle this new bottle will have been sitting for six months at least.

This will be perfect just time for your holiday baking this year. OR buy cute little bottles and give it as gifts in the beginning of the holiday season for other people's baking. Your friends and family will be so impressed with your kitchen wizardry and only you will know just how super easy it really was.


  1. One of my favorite gifts, it was soooo yummy! I kept the cute little bottle, glad I did! Thanks for sharing this, I'm off to get the goods to make my your blog Tracy!

  2. Gordon's is better known for their gin. Haven't tried their vodka.

    I love the TITLE of your blog!!

  3. You can buy vodka at Wal-Mart where you live?

  4. Beenthere,
    Yep! It's a Super Walmart, but our Target has alcohol too!

    graciesdaddy, thanks for the hint about the vodka brand I bought and for the compliment!

    Ellen, Thank you! See you next month!

    Wendy, you are too sweet, as always!

  5. This is the best vanilla ever. I am almost out of what I made last year and the vanilla company has been out of stock for several months. Do you know of an alternate source for vanilla beans?