100% Pure Vanilla Extract

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

May 5, 2020


Categories: Family, Food, The Green Life

How do you make 100% pure vanilla extract? It’s easier than you think! All it takes is a few simple ingredients and time.

[This post originally published November 28, 2010. I wanted to spruce it up a little to compliment a podcast I recently published. Unfortunately, time and technology ate my original photos. Stay tuned for updated photos.]

I have been meaning to put these photos up since I took them in February. But, it’s taken me this long to find a slideshow application I can  use and like well enough. Thank you, flickr, for being a good – a reasonable aid.

So, how do you make Homemade Vanilla Extract and why would you do it? Back in February, I was out of vanilla extract. I have long since stopped using imitation vanilla and only purchased what I deem to be the “good stuff.” Food club stuff (more on that later!) was finally materializing, and I was participating in a new level of food. Someone replied to a discussion board with how easy it is, so I Googled it and concurred: Simple, I can do this.

So, I bought my first bag of Vanilla Beans. I purchased them from Frontier Natural Coop where I have had a coop membership, now for nearly two years. It was remarkably affordable. One quarter ounce yielded about 30 beans. I think my bag actually had 33. You only needed 6 beans for every two cups of vodka. There are many tweaks to making vanilla extract, with how long you let the vodka soak up the vanilla goodness to what sort of simple syrup you choose to add. This is what I did, and it’s got nothing but rave reviews. And, it makes for a super easy “preserve exchange” gift!

Pure Vanilla Extract

Prep Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 42 days


  • 2 2-quart jars
  • Canning funnel
  • Paring knife
  • Liquid Measuring Cup
  • Strainer / sieve
  • Cheese cloth
  • Small funnel
  • 4 oz ladel
  • Several 4-oz Bostom Round amber colored jars


  • 2 cups vodka (don't get the bottom shelf, mid-call or higher)
  • 6 each vanilla beans (sliced lengthwise, leaving one inch at the top, in tact)
  • 2 tpbs spiced rum (Sailor Jerry's works fine)


  • Slice the beans you will use lengthwise, leaving one inch at the top
  • Pour vodka into a 2-quart mason jar
  • Insert beans in jar, gently applying pressure with a spoon to ensure they stay submerged
  • Add spiced rum to give coloring and add a touch of sweetness
  • Let sit for at least six weeks to two months
  • Strain, I use a mess colander and cheese cloth last time and it worked wonderfully
  • Pour into smaller containers, I use 4 oz amber, Boston rounds
  • Enjoy & Gift away!



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