Print Options:

Vanilla Essence

Yields1 Serving

After you make your own vanilla essence you will never go back to the shop bought imitation junk with additives like corn syrup, thickeners, artificial colours, caramel colour, stabilisers and fake vanilla in the form of vanillin made from the petroleum and wood pulp industry.

 Vanilla pods
 Alcohol, eg. vodka, rum, brandy or spirit of your choice provided it’s at least 40% alcohol and the aroma doesn’t overpower vanilla. The ratio is 6 vanilla beans per 500ml of spirits (or add more vanilla if you like it stronger).
 I prefer to use white rum, vodka or gin. Rum complements the vanilla flavour nicely. It’s best in cakes or muffins. Vodka on the other hand doesn't have as strong aroma as rum and won’t compete with the vanilla flavour. Vodka and Gin based vanilla extract is good for cream and cheese based deserts. So in reality you could make one of each.
 When you are selecting your alcohol be sure that it is a pure alcohol. Some cheaper rums or brandies can have added artificial colours. Your white spirits should not have any additives!
 Another thing to be wary of when selecting the right spirit is the original ingredients. Some are grain based so if you have a gluten intolerance in the family you may need to avoid those spirits. Following is a table of original ingredients of alcohol.
Alcohol Original Ingredient
 Rum - Sugar cane (brown rum is aged in oak barrels)
 Whiskey - grains, barley, rye, wheat or corn
 Brandy - grapes and distilled from wine could have sulfur in it
 Gin - juniper berries
 Vodka - potatoes or grains (you will need to check this one)
 Tequila- blue agave
 White spirits are traditionally the cleaner spirits. White rum means that it has not been aged in an oak barrel to turn the colour to brown, either rum can be used.

Prepare a clean glass jar or bottle, depending on how much you make will depend on the size of the bottle.


Split vanilla beans lengthwise and then in half.


Place all the vanilla into the bottle and pour the alcohol over the beans.


Place the lid on the glass jar and leave in a dark place like your pantry for at least 2-3 months.


Shake occasionally.


As the weeks pass, the clear spirits like vodka will develop a brown colour. If you have used a brown rum the colour will deepen further and become cloudy and less transparent. The longer it stands the stronger and more aromatic your homemade vanilla extract will become. So that you remember the date you made your homemade essence place a sticker on your bottle of essence with the date you made it.


The first time I made vanilla extract I could hardly wait for the three months to pass, so I started using it at 6 weeks and it was pungent at that stage, but I’ve noticed as time passes it just becomes absolutely the best essence.


When the three months is up, I usually take out about 100 ml and put it in another small clean jar, then I top up my original jar with more of the primary alcohol. You can do this for around 3 years. Remember there will be other people who may like a small bottle of your homemade vanilla essence, so make enough for gifts for friends or teach them to make their own.