Everything You Need to Make Vanilla Extract for Christmas Gifts

vanilla

There’s nothing like talking about Christmas while we’re dripping sweat off our foreheads this summer.  The only reason I bring it up in July is that many have been asking about the specifics of making Homemade Vanilla Extract for Christmas gifts.  Now’s the time to get this project going if you’re planning to put it under the tree or in stockings in December.  Just think – if you get this going now, your busy holiday time preparations will be just a little bit easier! It takes 4-6 months to make strong, flavorful vanilla extract.  Therefore, beginning anywhere from May to August is ideal if you want your vanilla to be ready by Christmas.

How to Make Vanilla Extract

I have a detailed post showing you how to cut your vanilla beans and how to get your vanilla extraction process going.  You will not believe how easy it is to make homemade vanilla!

Where to Buy Vanilla Beans

I have tried vanilla beans through the years at a few different places, but none of them compare to Olive Nation.  Their quality and price is the best, hands down.  When we contacted Olive Nation about promoting them here at Heavenly Homemakers, they were quick to give all of you an ongoing 10% discount (when you use the code home at checkout and click through this link).  Plus, they always offer free shipping on vanilla beans.

How to Finish Your Vanilla Extract

After 4-6 months, you’ll simply strain the vanilla beans and bottle your deliciously wonderful liquid gold.  Here are the details about how to finish your vanilla extract.

Where to Buy Bottles for Vanilla

I’ve searched many websites for good prices on dark colored bottles for my finished vanilla extract.  When I add in shipping costs, the best price I’ve found has been through Mountain Rose HerbsHere are more details about where to buy bottles for vanilla.  You may be able to find a better price locally, but since I live in a small town with no dark bottle options, I have found it’s best for me to order online.

Fun Labels for Your Vanilla Bottles

You can print your own labels to decorate your vanilla bottles when giving them as gifts, or you can have my friend Char custom design some for you.  I love her work!

What have been your homemade vanilla experiences?  Have you gifted it to others? 

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Comments

  1. Missy says

    I have my first batch in the dark corner of my pantry right now! Ordered my vanilla beans from Olive Nation and they are wonderful, just as you said. I didn’t have a large jar like yours, so I used 4 quart jars and divided up my beans accordingly. Wasn’t any extra work! Looking forward to giving homemade vanilla and ranch dressing mix as Christmas gifts this year! :)

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    Laura Reply:

    The vanilla with ranch dressing mix will be such a great gift!

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  2. says

    Thanks for lining up the discount! I learned how to make vanilla extract when you posted on it the first time.

    Have you checked bottle prices at Sunburst Bottle Company? I bought my spice jars there three years ago, and they’re great. They have the 4 oz. amber screw-top bottles, lid included, that you use for $.78 apiece, or $.73 apiece if you buy a gross. 8 oz. jars are $.91 apiece; $.83 if ordering more than 50. Shipping is free for orders over $200.

    They don’t know me from Adam; I just thought I’d toss that info into the mix in case it might prove useful. Looks like Mountain Rose is about double that price…

    I hope that is helpful to someone. Thanks again!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’ll have to look into it, thanks!

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    Emily Reply:

    I got my bottles from Frontier this last time at a great price!

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  3. says

    Is there a difference in any brand vodka?

    [Reply]

    Mary Reply:

    Some are not gluten free if that is important to you.

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    Laura Reply:

    I usually just go for the cheapest vodka I can find. It still makes awesome vanilla. :)

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  4. says

    I am wanting to make Christmas gift baskets to sell as a fundraiser for our adoption & was hoping you could tell me what would be a good size bottle to put the extract in. I’m guessing the homemade version is a lot stronger than what you buy at the store? I can’t wait to try this!!!!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I get 2, 4, and 8 ounce bottles and gift it as I feel best (giving larger bottles to those who bake more). Yes, this vanilla is much stronger, so I just use 1/2 the amount called for in recipes.

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  5. K. Ann Guinn says

    I’m so excited to have started my first batch. I have a half gallon jar begun already. There’s a few extra beans left, so I’m hoping to be able to use a $5 off coupon from Olive Nation to get enough beans to get another jar going soon! Just a note; I was a little confused when I opened my bag of vanilla beans, as the ones I received were so much bigger, there were less than estimated in the 1/2 lb. bag. I just used the right weight percentage, rather than the correct number. I’m assuming I did the right thing. It’s fun to shake the bottle every few days and check the progress!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’m sure that will work just fine. :)

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  6. lyss says

    Unfortunately, my vanilla-making experience is less than great. I am assuming the poor results are from poor quality beans. I have a quart jar full that’s been sitting for over a year, and it still smells more like alcohol than vanilla. I got vanilla beans for cheap on a mission trip to PNG, so I’m guessing that my “great find” wasn’t such a great find. lol
    Maybe soon I’ll try again with better vanilla beans. The other problem is buying vodka (can’t get it at Walmart here!) and storing so none of my friends see it. Some people would think I’m heathen for using alcohol to extract vanilla or medicinal herbs…seriously, I’m not drinking it, people!

    [Reply]

    dep31 Reply:

    Two things I’ve found:

    1. “Grocery store vanilla” has a lot of sugar added to it, to disguise the alcohol taste. Homemade vanilla doesn’t have the sugar (or corn syrup, or whatever), so it will naturally taste boozy. I find that we don’t notice it when it’s baked or added in to whatever I’m making.

    2. Running cheap vodka through a Brita filter 10-12 times really cuts the ‘bite’. It seems it takes out a lot of impurities, and some people use this trick to make cheap vodka taste like premium. There was some magazine that did a test on filtered vodka; they gave a professional vodka tester 10 unmarked samples from vodka that had been filtered once, twice, thrice, etc., and he was able to line them up in order from least to most filtered based on the purity of the taste.

    Ever since I’ve started filtering my vodka for vanilla, I’ve noticed that it definitely smells less boozy. It’s still boozy, mind you, but not quite as medicinal.

    Hope that helps…

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    Laura Reply:

    I was going to say just about the same! Real vanilla extract has quite a strong alcohol smell but the vanilla flavor shines through in the baked goods. :)

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    Emily Reply:

    You can use other kinds of alcohol, rum for instance, but it may have a slightly different flavor. I’ve heard people say they like the rum type even more than the vodka type – it just depends on your taste. I’ve never tried it, but I bet it would be lovely in baked goods.

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  7. says

    Could you use rum instead of vodka?

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, I have a friend who does that and she said it’s great!

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    christy sheffield Reply:

    Awesome! I sent the hubs to get some rum because I made some homemade tinctures and I read that the rum isn’t as bitter as vodka. He came home with a huge bottle. So, I’m glad I can use it to make Christmas gifts now!

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  8. Heather says

    how much does the 1 gallon make up? I’m assuming less than a gallon…

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    It should be right around one gallon…maybe slightly less.

    [Reply]

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