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DIY Christmas Gifts – How To Make Your Very Own Vanilla Extract

August 30, 2013

Vanilla Extract

Change is in the air, I can feel it! It’s still pushing 100 degrees in Southern California, but Fall is nipping at our heels, and pretty soon, we’ll be in the thick of Winter.

I leave my house at 6:30 AM every morning to go to work, and lately I can really see the seasons changing. This time seems to be the perfect time to observe fall coming closer and closer on the daily. The sun rises later and later every day. Right now it’s about two fingers above the horizon when I’m on my way to work. Come Tuesday, (because this Monday is Labor Day), I’m sure my drive will afford me a spectacular witnessing of a sunrise. That doesn’t happen quite often enough, does it? To witness one is rare, at least for me, and I’m looking forward to it!

My point with all this, is that we have 23 days until Fall. If you want to start making vanilla extract as Christmas Gifts, now it the time!

Last year, I had this idea, but I had it at the beginning of December – way too late. Now, I’m here to help you out and remind you to get on it!

Here’s how I made mine:
Vanilla Extract

First, you must procure vanilla beans. This takes longer than the other ingredients because grocery stores typically don’t sell vanilla beans in bulk. You want a grade B vanilla bean. You may think, “Why not grade A vanilla beans?” After doing a bit of research, grade B vanilla beans contain less moisture, which means that less water gets in your vanilla extract, which is apparently preferable. I’m sure whatever bean you use, it’s going to be better than any stuff you’d buy in the store! I used 1/8 pound of Madagascar Bourbon Planifolia Extract Grade B Vanilla Beans. I mistakenly bought a whole pound, so there may be more extract to be made. Perhaps they will make it into a batch of beer!

Vanilla Extract

Next, buy one of those 1.5 liter jugs of vodka – I used Absolut, and procured 12 fancy bottles with self capping lids, with a 4 ounce capacity. I’m an Ideeli fan girl through and through, and when I saw these beautiful bottles, I knew that I had to have them for this project! I’m sure you can find cool bottles at places like Pier 1 Imports or Cost Plus World Market. Make sure you wash the bottles well the night before, and let them dry overnight.

Vanilla Extract

They say that you don’t need to split the beans down the middle, but I think it makes for nice presentation. Plus, I just like to see all that “caviar” inside. It’s cool! I then cut them in half, so they fit into the bottles, then stuffed them, carefully pouring the vodka over. I didn’t have a funnel, so I used a Pyrex liquid measuring cup to carefully pour the vodka. It worked like a charm, and now I know I still have my steady hand. WIN!

Vanilla Extract

It’s as easy as that, you’re done! All you have to do, is wait a couple months, shaking the bottles every so often, and come Christmastime, you’ve got yourself some great artisan gifts to give your loved ones. To me, there is nothing better than giving a gift of craft for the holidays.

Happy Vanilla Making!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Vanilla Extract
How to make your very own vanilla extract.
  • ⅛ pound Madagascar Bourbon Planifolia Extract Grade B Vanilla Beans (about 2½ - 3 beans per bottle)
  • 1.5 Liters Vodka
  • 12 Four Ounce Bottles
  1. Wash bottles, rinse well, and let dry overnight.
  2. Split and halve Vanilla beans.
  3. Place them in the bottle, then pour in vodka.
  4. Let sit for two months or more, shaking them every so often.
  5. Give as Christmas Gifts!



  1. Cathy @ She Paused 4 Thought
    August 30, 2013 at 9:09 am

    I didn’t know the there was a grade A or B vanilla bean. Great information.

    What a thoughtful Christmas or hostess gift.

  2. Cynthia
    August 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Those bottles are so cool! Neat idea.

  3. Lisa
    September 1, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    These look beautiful!
    What a wonderful idea. I do have a question though, can you use bourbon instead of vodka? If yes, what would be the difference between using vodka vs. Bourbon?

    • Natalie Wiser-Orozco
      September 3, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Lisa, I’m sure you can use bourbon instead of vodka! The reason vodka is used is because it has the least flavor of the two, therefore you really get a more pure vanilla flavor when you add it to things like cookies, cakes, etc. One point was mentioned that if you wanted additional bourbon flavor in whatever you were making, just add it in with the regular vanilla. Problem solved! 😀

  4. arianna
    September 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Beautiful idea!!! I’ve become semi obsessed with those bottles. Searching high and low for similar ones. Any chance you’ll share the original source of the bottles (beyond being purchased from ideeli)? Manufacturer or store… Thank you!

  5. Chantel
    September 4, 2013 at 8:44 am

    These are so great, thanks Natalie! Do you know if there’s a shelf life for this vanilla extract?

  6. Coley
    September 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Love it! How much?

  7. Suzanne
    September 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    I wondered what the shelf life for this would be as well – any estimation?

    • Natalie Wiser-Orozco
      September 20, 2013 at 9:13 am

      I believe it would be indefinite as long as it is kept at room temperature, and the bottle is tightly sealed.


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