DIY – Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Sugar

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Even though I don’t bake sweets very often, and with the several disastrous examples that I’ve posted here, I still make my own vanilla sugar and vanilla extract.

They are just too easy to not make.

Start with about 5 vanilla beans. Split them with a knife, but do not scrape out the seeds. For the extract, put 3 of the beans in a jar or bottle (an old grolsch beer bottle works perfect here), and cover with vodka. Put it in a dark place and let it steep. It’s ready to use in about 8 weeks, though it just gets better and better with age. I always have two bottles going, one for using and one steeping. Then when the one I am currently using runs out, I start using the one that had been aging, and immediately begin a new one aging.

Making vanilla sugar is just as easy. Take the other 2 beans, split them, again, don’t extract the seeds. Place them in a jar and cover with sugar. I started using the sugar after a couple of weeks, it becomes so fragrant almost immediately! As you use the sugar, just add more in, kind of stirring it up to mix the old with the new.

I use the homemade vanilla extract in any recipe calling for vanilla extract. The sugar is fantastic used in and sprinkled on baked goods. I also use it in frozen desserts. It makes vanilla ice cream doubly delicious!

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  1. says

    I was thinking about making my own vanilla extract but when I was looking into it I read that you would not be able to get the extract as strong as the store bought. How do you find your home made vs store bought? I have some vanilla beans that are looking for a new home. :) The vanilla sugar sounds like a good idea.

  2. says

    I also do the vanilla sugar thing, but I use pods I’ve already scraped out for some other recipe and it seems to do just as well. It has scared my wife on occasion though–she’s opened the sugar before and thought a big gnarly bug was living in there

  3. Pam says

    Kevin, my extract is at least as strong as the store and I think stronger, but my bottle probably aged for close to a year. The secret is to always have one aging, while you are using another bottle.

    Mike, you right. The sugar becomes flavorful almost immediately, and just the bean would be plenty!

  4. swirlingnotions says

    Wow. I never thought about making my own vanilla extract. Once, when we were in Cuernavaca Mexico at a cooking school, the chef gave us a water bottle filled with the most magnificent vanilla extract I’d ever encountered. It literally inspired me to bake (which was a feat). But I ran out years ago and haven’t been able to find anything close to the same quality since. So I’ll definitely be giving this a shot! Thanks!

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