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Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract

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Since my interest in baking is reignited this holiday season, I am reminded of my homemade vanilla extract which I kept forgetting to write about. The bottle you see above is 3 years old! Homemade vanilla extract is unbeatable in terms of both price and quality.  And it is so easy to put together, it is a pity not to make your own if you love baking. All you need is a glass bottle, vanilla pods, vodka and some time … and you will be rewarded with a never-ending supply of good quality vanilla extract. It will never run out because you can simply top up with more pods and vodka as you use it. Homemade vanilla extract makes a great hand-made gift for the holiday season (you can put together a diy starter kit, or give a bottle with a tag to indicate the estimated ready date).

Vanilla Extract

54 comments on “Homemade Vanilla Extract”

  1. Hi, I was wondering is it a good idea to just dump the pods into the vodka bottle instead of transferring it to another bottle? More straightforward and dun have to worry about sterilizing the bottle. :) kindly advise. J

    • Hi Jane, yes you can use the vodka bottle if you like…. just that the vodka bottle is wide, so you may need more pods to get concentrated vanilla extract (I’m using a tall and narrow bottle).

    • Thanks for the advice. I am unable to get a suitable bottle that’s y I think of using the vodka bottle. I should try to get a suitable bottle. Thanks again.

  2. Hi, thank you for the wonderful recipe on making our very own vanilla extract from vanilla pods. I have been searching for vanilla pods around including Phoon Huat but I dont seems to have the luck of finding one that carries it, including the Phoon Huat at my area
    1. Could you give me the eBay link to buy it?
    2. Do you take out the old vanilla pods as you put in fresh ones? Are the old ones still be of use in any way?

    • Hi Hanny, please refer to page two of the recipe – I included an Ebay link for buying the vanilla pods. Very trustworthy seller!
      You can take out the old pods progressively while adding new ones. I won’t advise taking out all the old ones at one go, as it takes time for the pods’ flavour to set in.

  3. Hi, Wiffy

    Jus to check, roughly how long will i need to top up the vanilla pods & vodka? And, when topping up, is it also adding up to 400ml of vodka again , and from there have to wait how long to be use again?

    Thank you.

    • It totally depends on you. As you start using the extract, you can start to top up the pods and vodka progressively. If you top up gradually and consistently, I would say there is not much down time.

    • Ok, thank you very much for yr advise & info.


  4. Hi Wiffy

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve just checked out your ebay link. But I’m not sure which one to order as there are so many different options. Is it ok if I just start with which costs S$9.76 (+S$9.74 shipping) . Is this enough to make 1 litre of extract? This is the first time i’m making my own extract. So need your advice.. Thanks a lot!

    • Hi YC

      Sorry I missed this comment and thanks for your reminder on FB. Yes there are many types to choose from: firstly I personally prefer Madagascar beans to Tahitian beans for making extract. The grade of beans you buy depends on your budget and needs. You can read the seller information page for recommendations. I can’t remember which I bought but it was not the highest grade. I think I bought only 1/2lb and I shared with a friend, 1 lb is quite a lot of beans.

      You mentioned on FB that you are making 1 litre of extract. Will you be using one big bottle? I personally advise splitting it to 2-3 bottles (about 350ml per bottle), else it will take a long time for the extract to mature. And it will take at least 3-6 months before the aroma sets in, so it might not be ready before Christmas, unless you are giving them as gifts and have the time to let the flavours sit in.

    • Hi Wiffy

      I ordered Madagascar Bourbon (Vanilla Planifolia) Extract Grade pods via the Ebay link you provided in your blog. The company is Vanilla Products USA. This is the first time I am buying vanilla pods. So, i am not so sure what to expect… Hope you help with some advice.

      (1) The vanilla pods I received smell more like the chinese dried prunes than the sweet and creamy fragrance that I am familiar with. From what I read, the variety of vanilla I ordered (Madagascar Bourbon (Vanilla Planifolia) ) is commonly used for extract and should smell sweet and creamy. The envelope was labelled correctly, but I wonder if the variety of pods I received is the correct one. They gave me 10 free pcs of beans and they smelt the same. Based on my search online, the smell seems to fit the description of the Tahitian variety, which (sadly) is used for savory dishes instead of baked goods.

      (2) Before i sliced the pods, i noticed that there were black powdery particles on the skin’s surface. They look like vanilla seeds. But i am not sure why the seeds are on the skin. Are they seeds, dirt, or mould (hope not!)?

      (3) I have already soaked the vanilla pods in my Smirnoff vodka this morning. I wonder how i can salvage the vodka.. the vanilla pods smells like something i can’t put in my baked goods.. so sad. Should I take out the pods, or just leave them there. What dishes can i use with the end product? Appreciate any ideas on what i should do with the vanilla pods and vodka.


    • Hi YC, my friends and I had ordered a few times, but we do not have problem with the smell or the quality, and use it for our extract and bakes. For questions regarding the product quality of the beans you ordered, can you kindly forward them to the seller? I think they will be in a better position to advise you. For mould, they look white not black.

  5. Hi, Wiffy

    Jus to check with you, i m can’t able to find those glass bottle, is it oK to make it with those glass bottle those mostly store cookies, with those rubber stopper type instead?

    And, is it ok, to store vanilla beans in the freezer for long period storage?

    Thank you
    Ester Wee

    • Hi Ester, yes, you can use any glass bottle of your choice.

      Vanilla beans are perhaps one of the few food ingredients where it is not recommended to keep in fridge or freezer. You can google for more information. I kept mine in a dry box cabinet (the box for keeping cameras and stuff). To prevent the strong aroma of the beans from leaking out, I cling-wrapped the beans, and then place them in a tight sealed glass bottle.

    • Oh, i put mine in the freezer already, as i bought from phoon huat (which they store in the fridge), thought it could last longer. Anyway, really thnks for yr info. and will take note of it.

      Thank you.

  6. Hi Noobcook,

    Any flavour of volka will do? or is there a standard flavour i need to use?

  7. Hi wiffy, I made my bottle abt a year ago and never looked back. :) thinking of changing my pods. Wondering if you have any tips on how to differentiate the older pods from newer ones such that I can just change 2-3 older pods each time?

  8. Hi Wiffy,

    Can i cut the recipe by half and use a smaller bottle to make the vanilla extract? I have a few instant Starbucks coffee glass bottle from supermarket, i was thinking if i could reuse the bottle……

  9. Would I need to refrigerate?

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