HOMEMADE: Vanilla Extract

Pure Vanilla Extract | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

How to Make: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Save all your scraped vanilla pods from making custard etc. they still have loads of flavour to be extracted. If using ONLY scraped pods use 6 pods OR 4 fresh pods as per recipe.
Servings 100 ml


You will need:

  • Approx. 4 plump vanilla pods split lengthways *see recipe intro above
  • 100 ml vodka or white rum [I used Havana Club white rum left over from our Cuban travels]
  • 100 ml glass bottle
  • small funnel


  • Push the split vanilla pods into the bottle, you might need to squish them around a little to get them to fit. Using a small funnel pour in the alcohol to come to the top of the bottle. Secure the lid, give it a little shake and place it on a windowsill out of direct sunlight. Every few days give it a little shake - it helps to have it in your kitchen so you remember.
  • Watch over the coming weeks as it darkens in colour. After about 4 weeks it should be good to go, in the middle of winter when it is really cold it might take longer. The best indication of the extract being ready is the colour and smell, it should smell more like vanilla than alcohol. Now it is ready to use in cooking, leave the pods in the bottle to keep adding flavour.
  • Once you get to the end of the bottle you can get one more extraction from the vanilla pods, simply repeat as above. Once the pods are spent the second time around I use tweezers to remove them and start again with new plump vanilla pods.

Today I am introducing a new category to Homegrown Kitchen where I share a homemade kitchen essential. Although it is not the first time I have shared a homemade staple ingredient and have included a list below of others you may be interested in.

To kick it off I am unraveling one of natures finest products and the simplest of pantry essentials to create – vanilla extract. I am yet to find someone who does not like vanilla – occasionally I come across someone who can’t stand chocolate – but so far not vanilla. I once read somewhere that the areola, the darker circle of flesh around a woman’s nipple, releases a subtle vanilla scent to entice a newborn baby to the breast. If this is true, then it most certainly explains why we love vanilla, because it makes us feel loved and nurtured. Then again, that theory may just be a myth – as my Dad always told me ‘believe nothing of what you hear [read], and only half of what you see’. In any way it sounds plausible to me and makes for a good story.

To make homemade vanilla extract is really very easy. The actual doing time is short and then you just need to be patient. I like to leave my extract to properly brew for a good month. We go through a fair amount of vanilla, I must put it into almost every sweet thing I make including pancakes and french toast. So I constantly have several small bottles in rotation. One in use in the pantry, and one brewing on the windowsill.

Read on for the recipe, and here are several links to more Homemade goodness on Homegrown Kitchen:

Chocolate Almond Milk

Nut Butter

Chai Tea Syrup

Preserved Lemons

Pure Vanilla Extract | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Homemade Vanilla Extract | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

p.s. Homegrown Kitchen Calendar Update. THANK-YOU to all of you have pre-ordered a 2015 CALENDAR. I have been blown away with the response and will be a busy bee packing and sending off calendars after I collect them from the printers tomorrow.

Homemade Vanilla Extract | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN





Join the Conversation

  1. I love homemade vanilla extract! I’ve never made it myself but have been gifted many bottles that friends have made and keep telling myself that I need to pull finger and make a batch.
    I like the idea of this being a regular feature.

    1. Thanks Tammi, it so easy! I am always on the look out for a vanilla pod bargain then make a ‘brew’.

  2. catherinebedson says:

    Hi Nicola, I’m popping in from Armoire Pegs and Casserole, lovely to read your interview there with Mel. My Nana was an influence on my cooking as well as she worked as a cook. I’ve never made home made vanilla extract and love the idea of having a bottle in use and one brewing in the pantry. I go through alot of it in our house as well and it can get expensive buying it from the supermarket. Your blog, photographs and calendar are gorgeous, Im feeling quite inspired. Thanks Nicola. x

    1. Thank-you! Once you make it you will always make it from scratch, it’s so very easy. Thanks for stopping by and happy cooking 🙂

  3. Hi can I please ask what brand of vanilla pods you use? Thanks

    1. Hi Jane, I have used several, in this post I used the Heilala pods that are available from specialty food stores but I have also used some fairtrade vanilla pods that were used as a fundraiser at an organic store in Nelson and were a very good price. You don’t need anything fancy for making the extract as the alcohol will extract the flavour.

  4. I wasn’t breast fed,and if your anecdote is true,that may explain it,but I absolutely detest vanilla extract-the smell and the taste! I am sorry if this was rude,but I couldn’t resist commenting.That being said,I am going to enjoy exploring your website-so many of the recipes are really intriguing-Cauliflower crust pizza sounds great! Have a great day!~Kat

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