Back in March, we took the boys to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for their Vanilla Days, and we got several recipes while we were there.  One of them included directions for making your own homemade Vanilla Extract.  Prior to our visit to the Botanical Gardens, I didn’t even know that one could make their own vanilla extract!  We talked to one of the educators there, and brought home the directions eager to try making our own. We decided to make our own vanilla extract and to compare the results by making two forms of Vanilla Extract with rum and vodka.

My Mom Made That: Homemade Vanilla Extract
First, we had to order vanilla beans, and based on the advice of the educator at the Gardens, we turned to Amazon to buy the Vanilla Beans(affiliate link). We also needed alcohol that was at least 40% alcohol.  We got clear rum and basic vodka.  We were told that we didn’t need to spend more on “top shelf” vodka, and we didn’t want to use 8 ounces of high end alcohol if the extract didn’t turn out.

My Mom Made That: Homemade Vanilla Extract

To make your own Vanilla Extract, one needs:

  • 3 Whole Vanilla Beans
  • 8 Ounces of Alcohol that is 40% alcohol or higher (at or greater than 80 proof)

We took three whole bean, and split them open without ripping them apart,  Once the beans were open, we placed them in 8 ounces of vodka or rum in a jam jar.  We then tightly sealed the jars, and set them aside.  It takes 8 weeks.  A LONG TIME!  At least it seemed so at the time.

My Mom Made That: Homemade Vanilla ExtractOur big question was– how would the two types of vanilla extract would compare?  To make sure that we could keep track of the two types, I marked the tops of the jars with a “V” and “R.”

My Mom Made That: Homemade Vanilla ExtractEach weekend, we’d shake the two containers, as we were instructed, as the color of the extracts got much darker.  Here’s what they looked like after a month:

My Mom Made That: Homemade Vanilla ExtractAfter two months, we finally we ready to use the extract!  I was so excited, and couldn’t wait to compare the two of them!  When we first opened them, I noticed that the vodka version smelled more like traditional vanilla extract while the rum version still had a strong rum scent to them.  Mellow Man was curious enough that he tasted both of them.  He shared that the rum version was very bitter while the vodka version was much more palatable.

My Mom Made That: Homemade Vanilla ExtractThe bigger question was how did they work for baking?  We have used both the rum version and the vodka version in ice cream, and in cookies.  Both versions made excellent homemade French Vanilla Ice Cream.  The chocolate chip cookies tasted much the same as always.  My general conclusion was that both forms are great for baking, work as well as the “gourmet” version of pure vanilla extract that I typically buy, and making my own gives me a lot more for less cost.  I think this is an experiment that worked.

My Mom Made That: Homemade Vanilla ExtractIt’s going to take us quite a while to use the Vanilla Extract, as we have 16 ounces.  We have them stored in a dark corner of our pantry, and will be slowly using them.  I’m even considering trying to find some pretty bottles to give some away as gifts.

I realized that I ought to include a cute kiddo photo from the day that we picked up the recipe for the Vanilla Extract.  Here is the Little Monkey– trying to smell the flowers at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens:

My Mom Made That: Homemade Vanilla Extract