How To Make Vanilla Extract

 It’s our first giveaway of the year!  To see how you  can win a bottle of Molly’s homemade vanilla extract see the bottom of the post!

Every year we make our gifts for friends and family.  In theory it’s a fantastic idea.  Come December our brains go on overdrive with what we want to accomplish.  I spent two weeks before the holidays practically chained to my sewing machine only getting up to stir a pot of soup or pull cookies out of the oven.  About half of our ideas make it out as an actual gift but what does make it feels pretty special and an accomplishment.  I know it’s a bit after the fact but I couldn’t post this before Christmas!  All my family would know what they were getting- work with me here!

Last year I really wanted to make vanilla extract for everyone.  I didn’t pull it off  in time so I figured I was way ahead of the game for this year.  This is a great gift for anytime of year.  My favorite part is that you can make a big batch of  vanilla, put it in the closet and pull one out whenever you need that quick gift.

How to make vanilla extract:


Vanilla beans- I purchased them from Vanilla Products USA

Vodka (enough to fill each 4 oz bottle)

4 oz bottles and caps- I purchased them from Specialty Bottle Supply

A funnel


1.  Get your bottles out and clean them.

Bottles for vanilla extract

2.  Cut each bean in half and split it down the middle.

How to prep the vanilla bean

3.  Plop it into your bottle.

 Vanilla bean into bottle

4.  Get your vodka out.  Depending on your mood grab a shot glass and take a sip 😉

Vodka, bottle and shot glass

5.  Pour vodka into the bottles- all the way to the top

 Pour the vodka into the bottle

6. Cap them and glue on your label (see instructions below).

Cap the bottle

7.   Store in a dark place for 60 days

 Store in the dark for 60 days

Vanilla Beans:

There are tons of choices out there.  Just do a little searching and you can do some price comparisons.  I got my beans at Vanilla Products USA.

Getting bottles:

We save all of our bottles.  I was hoping after a year I would have a few real good ones for this project.  The problem was that the smaller bottles were impossible to get clean.  There always seemed to be one piece of gunk stuck in the crevice on the bottom.  The large bottles were just too big.  Mike reminded me that I’m one of the very few that uses a pint of vanilla extract over the course of a few months.

I gave in, went online and found some real cute inexpensive bottles at Specialty Bottle Supply.  I only needed about 13.  I found that when I ordered 20 the price of shipping per bottle went down by about $.10 per bottle so I ordered more than I needed.

Making labels:

Mike and I went online and found an assortment of free ready made label templates.  The first one I made looked like this:

First try at vanilla label

It’s very cute but too much was going on for such a small label.  You can download this free label here.

After a bit more searching I got what I needed.  Mike found one with lots of choices on one page.  Go here to see what I downloaded and here’s what I came up with.

The final vanilla label

Mike took the .pdf file and in Adobe Photoshop converted it into a .jpg.  From there I uploaded it into Picnik and added my own text.  After saving it Mike went back into Adobe Photoshop and set 16 to a page. I printed them out.

I wanted a handmade look to them.  I pulled out my fancy scissors and started cutting.  I used spray adhesive to stick them on.


Vanilla Beans (includes shipping): $17 (I ordered a 1lb bag for $32 and used half of it)

20 bottles and tops (includes shipping): $26

Vodka: $24 (I found a store brand on special that day!)

Labels: a few pennies for the paper and the ink I used from my printer….Let’s call it $.50

Total cost for 20 bottles: $67.50 

Cost per bottle: $3.38

These make really useful but unique gifts.  I love having something like this around for those times you want to bring a host gift to a party or for that birthday gift you forgot to get.

Now we did mention something about a giveaway.  To enter write a comment on this post letting us know what you are looking forward to in 2012 or tell us your version of  how to make vanilla extract (yep, it’s that simple).   We will pick a winner randomly from the comments using  You have until midnight on Saturday, January 7th to enter.  The winner will be announced during next Tuesdays Hearth-n-Soul blog hop!


This post is part of the  Hearth-n-Soul blog and Whipper Berry blog hops. Click on the badges to see all the other participants for this week’s blog hop!  I also want to throw out a big congratulations out to Penniless Parenting (one of the sponsors of the Hearth-n-Soul).  She’s the proud Mama of a brand new baby girl!

Hearth-n-Soul Blog Hop Whipperberry

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