What Alcohol Is Best When Making Vanilla Extract?

With the holiday season approaching many home bakers will begin to plan their baking schedules and some will even start to stock the supplies they will need. And one important ingredient for baking is Vanilla extract. By making your own vanilla extract, you will ensure that you always have this ingredient on hand. And there are only 2 ingredients to make your own Vanilla extract. Vanilla Beans and alcohol. But what alcohol is best when making vanilla extract.

Some of the links below are affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. See Affiliate Disclosure

What Alcohol Is Best When Making Vanilla Extract?

Actually, you can use any alcohol to make vanilla extract as long as it is 80-proof. But the most popular choices are vodka, bourbon, or rum. The different types of alcohol will bring out different flavors in your extract. No need to buy expensive alcohol when the inexpensive one will do just fine.

Vodka-The most versatile because of its neutral flavor that produces a cleaner and lighter vanilla extract.

Bourbon- produces a heavier, more complex type of extract

White Rum- Similar to vodka, produces a smooth and pure extract.  It also brings out the greatest levels of sweetness from the beans.

Vanilla Beans, Grade A Or Grade B, What’s The Difference?

Grade A Vanilla Beans

These beans are considered Gourmet and a luxury option. They have a more diluted taste due to a higher moisture content Also more pliable with higher moisture content.

Chefs prefer using grade-A vanilla beans in their cooking because the vanilla is quickly infused into the dish. Excellent in making sauces and frostings. It is mostly used in cooking but also can be used to make extract.

Grade B Vanilla Beans

The grade that is used for extraction. These beans are lower in moisture content, which helps to achieve a more concentrated vanilla flavor in your extract.

Grade B is visually less appealing because they are much more dry and brittle and are prone to breaking and cracking. Cheaper than Grade A.

Madagascar Or Tahitian?

Not only are there different grades of vanilla beans there are also different kinds.  The two popular ones are Madagascar and Tahitian.

Madagascar Vanilla Bean

Madagascar vanilla beans are grown on the islands of Reunion and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

They are more frequently used to make extracts due to their versatility. They have a rich, full-bodied, woody flavor. They are commonly used to flavor ice cream, baked goods, chocolate, and other sweets.

Tahitian Vanilla Bean

Tahitian vanilla Beans are much rarer. It’s native to Oceania, a cluster of islands in the Pacific Ocean.

A more delicate bean that is not overly sweet or strong but has light floral overtones. They are better used in more delicate desserts that don’t require intense heat to prepare. And because of their light floral scent, they are also added to perfumes and soap.

Is It Cheaper to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract?

In one word-yes.  And it tastes so much better than the vanilla extract you can buy at the store. You can make several bottles, and that way, you will always have them when you need them. They would also make great gifts for the bakers in your life.

How To Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

I used these 8-ounce bottles.

4-5 vanilla beans to each bottle.  I used  Tahitian Grade B extract beans.  I cut them in half to fit into the bottle.  I also scored the beans before putting them into the bottle.  Cover them with your alcohol (I used Vodka).  Screw the top on and give them a little shake.  Store in a dark, cool place and give them a little shake about every day. If you forget, that’s ok; every other day is fine.

This is where patience comes into the picture. You have to be patient. Making your own vanilla extract is like making wine.  It gets better with age! Do not use your homemade vanilla extract for at least 8 weeks.  But for the best flavor, it is recommended to wait 6 to 12 months. The beauty is that when you start to use your vanilla extract, remove the vanilla beans and use them to start a new bottle. Genius right?

Final Thoughts

Making your own vanilla extract only takes 2 ingredients. Vanilla beans and alcohol. While any alcohol will work, you must be sure that it is 80 proof. Also, different alcohols provide different flavor profiles to your vanilla extract.

Be patient. The longer your vanilla extract sits, the better. Try to wait at least 8 weeks before using.

Have you made your own vanilla extract?


Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts and experiences

Keep On Baking


Share The Love

Leave a Comment