Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe [With Free Printable Labels]
Homemade vanilla extract is pretty simple to make (you really can't mess it up!) and it makes a lovely handmade gift. Take the stress out of shopping for gifts, and make them with this fun recipe and printable set.
I made two vanilla extract label template options, depending on your style. One has a more vintage feel with an old drawing of a vanilla plant, flower, and bean. The other is a more modern typography label. Both have places to record who made the extract and when it can be used.
Pure vanilla extract doesn't go bad, so no need to worry about an expiration date.
To make homemade vanilla extract you need two things: vanilla beans and vodka.
The quality of the vodka is not super important, but you do want some quality beans as that is where your flavor will come from. I found some great gourmet Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans on Amazon.
Cut ~10 vanilla beans lengthwise, but don't cut completely through – just enough to open one side and expose the seeds inside the bean. Add beans to the vodka bottle. Shake and store in a dry, dark space.
You'll need to shake the bottle periodically while the extract "cures," so go back and shake it every couple of days.
I am keeping mine in the pantry. It's dark and dry, and every time I open the door to get something I see the bottle and give it a little shake. It's easy to remember since I still see it when working in the kitchen.
The vanilla extract will be ready to use in about 12 weeks, but the flavor intensifies the longer the beans soak in the vodka. Be careful not to let the liquid level dip below the beans or they could start to mold. Otherwise, you can't overdo it!
To test if your homemade vanilla extract is ready to use, add a few of drops to a glass of milk and stir. If you can taste the vanilla in the milk, you are all set! You may be able to smell the vanilla in the extract, but the alcohol smell will still dominate, just like in store-bought extract.
Once you're ready to put your gifts together, pour extract into bottles, cap, and apply the homemade vanilla extract label.
You can dress up the bottle, and it's ready to be presented as a gift!
Another method: Put the sliced vanilla beans directly into your gifting bottles. I used 5 oz bottles with 2-3 beans each. Just be sure to remove the beans prior to gifting the extract!