If you’re considering making your own homemade vanilla extract to give as a gift, what a lovely idea this is. There is something special about making a batch of something you enjoy for a loved one. The most obvious and first item on the agenda will be the vanilla beans; they really do make all the difference. Aside from this, the type of alcohol you use, the bottle you store it in, and the time you leave it to ‘brew’ all make a difference to the end result.

While it’s a lot to consider, it’s almost certainly worth the effort. Once you’ve tried making it just a single time, you’ll realize just how simple it is and how much better homemade vanilla extract tastes.

Making Homemade Vanilla Extract as a Gift

There are many different recipes for homemade vanilla extract, and if you click our own recipe, you’ll see there are actually just four short steps to follow. In a nutshell:

Step 1 – Slice the beans, chop them into pieces, place them in a jar

Step 2 – Cover the beans in any alcohol of your choosing

Step 3 – Seal the bottle, give it a few shakes, to begin with; then shake again every 1-2 weeks

Step 4 – You’ll need to wait around 6-12 months for the full extraction to take place

Ok, so that’s the basics of how to make your gift, but there are a couple of variations and options that you’ll want to consider before you’re ready to get started.

  • The type of vanilla bean
  • The type of alcohol
  • The storage bottle you will use
  • The length of time you will leave the extract to evolve

The Different Options for your Vanilla Extract

If you are experimenting with making homemade vanilla extract for the first time, you might want to try out a few different options and see which you prefer. You might even decide to gift a trio of extracts with slightly different flavor profiles; either way, it’s always good to know your options.

Which type of Vanilla Bean should you choose for vanilla extract?

There are two different grades of vanilla beans, Grade A and Grade B, but which is best?

Generally speaking, for longer-timed baking projects, such as making sugar or vanilla extract, use Grade B. For shorter-timed stuff, such as dinner or desserts, grade A is best.

Which type of alcohol should you use for vanilla extract?

If you’re considering which alcohol is best to use in Vanilla extract, you have three main options.

  • Rum
  • Bourbon
  • Vodka

Each of these options offers a slightly different taste profile. You might wish to experiment and make up different batches to see which you prefer. Or, if you are making vanilla extract as a gift, you might simply choose the recipient’s favorite tipple.

Which type of Storage container should you choose for vanilla extract?

Knowing how to properly store vanilla beans once you have them is key. The same applies when you make vanilla extract. Moisture and air need to be avoided at all costs when you look into the storage options for your vanilla beans. As for which type of storage container is best for your vanilla extract, you should always try to get an vacuum sealed or airtight glass container. Ideally, it would be tinted or glazed.

Thinking ahead, you may want to give your gift of vanilla extract in the same jar you use to make it. The longer you can leave the beans and the alcohol to extract, the better the taste of the product will be over time. Just like a fine wine, it matures with age.

A final note on storage. Never, ever store your beans in a refrigerator or freezer, and always keep them away from any sunlight.

How long should you leave your vanilla extract preparing for before it’s ready?

If you’re planning to make homemade vanilla extract as a gift, then knowing when to start making it is key. You’ll need to make sure you order the right vanilla beans well in advance of when you plan on getting started.

Once you have all the items you need, there needs to be at least an 8 week period between you placing the beans in the storage jar and them being ready to gift. In actual fact, the longer you can leave to prepare, the much better it will taste.

So, if you’re planning on making homemade vanilla extract as a gift, there really is no time like the present to get started!

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, you might also be interested to learn just how easy it is to make homemade vanilla bean ice cream.