12 April 2014

Make Your Own Pure Vanilla Extract Without the Alcohol

I'm almost embarrassed to put this out there, though I'm sure I'm not alone: I've only used pure vanilla extract a handful of times in my life. It's rarely been in my pantry simply due to the high cost. There. I said it.

Since I'm slowly (very slowly it seems, at times) trying to transform my eating habits for the better as well as become more of a make-my-own and do-it-myself kinda girl, I looked into the process of making pure vanilla extract.

Let me back up a bit. Have you ever looked at the ingredients label of a bottle of "pure" vanilla extract in the grocery store? You might be surprised to find water and corn syrup in addition to the expected extracted vanilla and alcohol. Not exactly my idea of pure.

Anyway, back to my story. I quickly was able to note that simply mixing vanilla beans and alcohol (often vodka) would generate pure vanilla extract. But I'm a bit meticulous. Sometimes I over analyze and maybe even over research. I read every comment on every article I read on homemade vanilla extract. All it took was one (literally) person to comment stating they could taste the alcohol to make me think twice.  I'm not a drinker and honestly don't like the taste of most alcoholic beverages.

So I looked for an alternative. And, thankfully, I found it in vegetable glycerin.  After that, making the vanilla was a breeze.  I promise, waiting was the hardest part.

Finally, the "Recipe"

I ordered 10 Madagascar vanilla beans from OliveNation and a 16 oz. bottle of vegetable glycerin from iHerb. Since this was my first time, I used those online retailers simply because they were highly recommended. I was not disappointed and now am paying it forward with my own recommendations for them. (It also helps that first-time buyers at iHerb get a $5.00 discount!)

I cut open the vanilla beans, but did not scrape out the yummy goodness. Then I put them in a quart mason jar with the full bottle of vegetable glycerin. I put it in the back of my pantry and took it out only to give it a shake every few days. That was six weeks ago today. The vanilla extract is definitely ready. I know this because I used it earlier in the week. :-)

Some say to strain it and pour the extract into another, dark colored bottle. I have yet to bother with that. I'm not planning to give it away, nor do I have a problem with vanilla bean bits being in whatever I'm using the extract for.

I've also read that those beans could go at least another round, but haven't dealt with that as of yet.

Cost Breakdown

If you find true pure vanilla extract in a store, you are likely to pay between $1.00 and $2.00 per ounce (at minimum). I now have 16+ ounces for an ingredient cost of about $10. That does include the discount of $5.00 at iHerb since I was a first time buyer. If those beans can go another round, you can conceivably get 32+ ounces for just over $22. And that's paying full price for 10 beans and 2 bottles of vegetable glycerin!

No unnecessary additives and costs less than what you buy in the store. Another win for the make-it-yourself team!

Have you tried making your own pure vanilla extract? Were you happy with the results?

Shared at the Homestead Barn Hop, From the Farm Blog Hop, and Tuesdays with a Twist.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click the link and buy something. The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through another link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! :-) Thanks for reading and following Stephlin's Mountain.


  1. Hi Stephanie- Interesting post. I recently began making my own extracts. I don't have a problem using the vodka method but I like knowing your way is another option. I chose your post as my favorite on From the Farm Blog Hop this week. Thanks for joining us and I hope you will be back again this week.
    Janet - http://timbercreekfarmer.com

    1. Thanks so much, Janet! I'm sure I'll be back. :-)


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