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extra credit: make your own vanilla.

In earlier posts like this cookie recipe I mention baking with your own made-from-scratch vanilla.  In retrospect, using vanilla you make yourself isn’t necessarily free as I had indicated, but it certainly is very low cost. I thought I’d do a little experiment to see exactly what the cost savings was.

I’ve outlined below how to make your own vanilla for a lot less than buying extract at the store.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy a bit of brandy with me…

I picked up this bottle of brandy – definitely not a high-end bottle – for $5.99 at our local grocery store.

Fresh Madagascar vanilla beans, split down the middle to expose the seeds.

$7.79 on average for 2 beans at most grocery stores, but I did find this great online store that vanilla beans and other spices for less.

Let the brandy and vanilla sit in a jar together to marinate for a couple weeks and, shazam!…your own vanilla!

Throw a ribbon on top and you’ve got a cute, homemade gift!

Make Your Own Vanilla

1.  Slice 2 vanilla beans (about 2-3 inches each) down the middle and place in a tall glass jar with a tight lid (or cork).

2.  Pour in 1/2 cup brandy, vodka or bourbon and fit with lid.

3.  Let jar sit for minimum 2 weeks, giving it a shake every now and then.  Vanilla will last up to 1 year.

4.  You can re-use the beans several times (I use them about 3 to 4 times, refilling the brandy and using the same beans).

Cost Savings?


2 ounce bottle of vanilla, generic, at the grocery store:  $6.99

TOTAL:  $.58 per teaspoon



1 750 ml bottle of brandy, generic, at the grocery store:  $5.99 for 3 cups or 24 ounces

1 bottle of 2 vanilla beans at the grocery store:  $7.79 (reusable 3 or 4 times)

TOTAL:  $.26 per teaspoon (assuming you use the beans 3 times)

So you’ll save over 50% making your own and it will be far more flavorful than pre-made vanilla purchased from the store.  They make for great gifts too.

Think you’ll give it a try?  If so let me know your thoughts and if you think it’s worth it!

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this idea! I’ll give it a try…and like the gift idea also! Thanks! ~Shelly

    October 3, 2011
    • Thanks Shelly! Let me know what you think!

      October 4, 2011
  2. What a phenomenal idea!

    October 4, 2011
  3. David #

    Where did you get that cool little bottle holding the finished extract?

    October 6, 2011
    • Thanks! Picked up several at Cost Plus World Market.

      October 6, 2011
  4. Wow. I just relocated my family (single mom) and I noticed I do not have any vanilla and it is so expensive! I have a lot of restocking to do in my seasoning and baking supplies but I am excited to try this. Thanks!

    February 12, 2012

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