How to Make Vanilla Extract in a Bottle

...For Homemade Vanilla Gifts that Get SWEETER with Age (a.k.a. Everlasting Vanilla)

Learn how to make vanilla extract bottles that get sweeter with age... plus free printable labels for your homemade gift projects!

If you are interested in learning how to make vanilla extract for homemade gifts, you've come to the right place. I know of, not one but, two ways to make vanilla and they both have their perks.

While my original homemade vanilla technique is awesome, and it's still the method I use to make plenty of homemade vanilla extract... for anything from hostess gifts to holiday baking... this tutorial explains how to make vanilla extract in one step, right in the bottle.

Vanilla typically takes a minimum of 4 weeks to become infused (and I like to steep my vanilla beans even longer). Sometimes when you are making gifts, this can be a problem, but no worries... with this method, there's no wrong time to make vanilla!

You'll want to prepare for this homemade gift project by purchasing vanilla beans in advance, either from the supermarket or online. Interestingly, the experts say they actually prefer the less expensive grade B beans for making extracts. well as high quality bottles (I used these bottles for this tutorial, they are perfect for this project and come in a package of 12).

If you have vanilla beans, vodka and bottles, you can literally make these vanilla gifts the same day as you are going to give them!

As a bonus, vanilla made this way gets stronger and sweeter with age (just like your friendships) and can be topped off with more vodka as it's used, creating a bottle of everlasting vanilla extract!

How to Make Vanilla Extract That Keeps on Giving...

Homemade vanilla makes lovely gifts! This tutorial will show you how to make vanilla gifts right in the bottles for vanilla that gets sweeter with age. ...Free printable labels included.

The following tutorial will show you step-by-step how to make vanilla extract that is everlasting and perfect for gift giving...

Free printables included in this "How to Make Vanilla Extract" tutorial:

  • Labels with a Use after date for best flavor. The date goes right on the printable labels. Whether you make these gifts in advance or right on the day you give them, you can easily fill in the date accordingly (more on steeping time below). Feel free to use these free printable vanilla labels, provided for your personal and gift giving use.
Print out these handy free printable tip tags for your everlasting vanilla gifts!
  • Everlasting Vanilla Instructions. The second thing that might be fun to share is the fact that these bottles of vanilla are everlasting. Your gift recipient can, in fact, keep topping of their bottle of vanilla with vodka as they use it. The beans will continue to steep and deepen the flavor for years to come. For this purpose, I made some custom vanilla tip tags, which I attached to each of my homemade vanilla gifts... and you can too!

To Make These Vanilla Gifts You'll Need:

How to Make Vanilla Extract Step-by-Step:

1. Wash Jars. Wash each jar and all lids with warm soapy water. Rinse well and allow to dry.

Vanilla beans steeping! Learn how to make your own vanilla extract, right in the bottles.

2. Chop Beans. Chop up desired amount of vanilla beans. I like to make a pile for each jar. Either of the following methods works great...

Method 1: chop beans into 1/2 inch pieces... super easy! (the beans will sink to the bottom of the bottle)
Method 2: use scissors to cut each bean down the center. Then cut each piece in half or thirds to fit inside jars. They look so pretty right now but honestly, once the vanilla steeps for a while, you won't be able to see anything inside the jar.

*I prefer the chop method because it's easiest and I like that the beans sink to the bottom, keeping them well submerged if you can't top it off right away.

3. Put Beans in Jars. Insert desired amount of chopped up vanilla beans into each jar.

4. Add Vodka. Using a funnel, fill each jar right to the neck with vodka. Be sure the vanilla beans are completely covered.

5. Close Jars. Wipe each rim with a clean paper towel and secure lid.

6. Shake. Shake each jar well to get the infusion started.

7. Allow Several Weeks to Infuse. Store jars in cool dark place, shaking as often as you can. The more you shake, the quicker they will infuse.

If you will be giving these as gifts before they are done infusing, simply write the appropriate date in the "use after ______ for best flavor" spot on the gift label.

That's how to make vanilla extract!

How Long to Infuse?

I've read right on my bag of vanilla beans, to let them steep for 6 weeks for best flavor. Though it is usable at this point, it will continue to get stronger, sweeter and richer with age, so I guess it depends on your personal taste.

One thing that will effect the strength of your vanilla is how often you shake the jars. Since these are gifts, I usually put the "best after date" at least 2 months (sometimes even longer) from the date I started the infusions. The vanilla "tip tags" I made explain that the infusion will continue to increase in strength as the beans steep. They also explain that the vanilla can last for many many years if you keep adding vodka as you use the vanilla.

Wondering what I mean by lasts for years and years? The shelf life of vanilla is explained well here. It should last indefinitely with proper storage.

More Tips: Vodka is the alcohol of choice when making extracts because of it's neutral flavor. If you are feeling adventurous, you can trade out the vodka for brandy or rum. You can also add just a splash of something different.

Wondering how to make vanilla extract that is Gluten Free? It's super easy! First of all, most mid-range to high quality plain unflavored vodka is already gluten free (since it is made by distilling corn or potatoes)... it is important to note that some of the really cheap vodkas are now made with grain and would not be gluten free.

If you are concerned with making sure your vanilla extract is gluten free you can either find out what was used to distill your vodka or choose a vodka that is actually certified gluten free.

I use plain unflavored Smirnoff, which is not actually certified gluten free, but is known to be gluten free, since it is made by distilling corn and has no added ingredients that gluten could be hiding in.

Tip ...a 2 inch round craft punch will pop these free printable tip tags out in seconds.

Use a paper punch to pop these round tags out in seconds!

Since I've made a ton of these homemade vanilla extract gifts, I needed an easy way to add instructions for everlasting vanilla. That's why I made the "tip tags!"

I found them quite convenient so I've provided them here for you to use as well. You can cut them out with scissors or...

...As shown, you can punch them out in seconds using a 2" round craft punch like this one... I prefer it over others because you can see exactly what you're punching!

You may also like to learn how to make vanilla extract in big batches, ensuring that you have plenty of vanilla for your baking needs and for homemade hostess gives throughout the year.

Related Pages...

› Everlasting Homemade Vanilla Gifts