Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract

This Vanilla Extract is a good homemade gift idea you can make with your kids, and can also be made a week from now without ever leaving your home! That's right -- the supplies can be ordered online, and then you will only need to wait a few days for them to arrive. The vanilla will, ideally, steep for a month -- it gets stronger the longer it sits -- but don't be put off at all by the timing: you could simply tie a little tag on each bottle with a date of first use, about a month from the bottling date.

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Steeping Time: 1 month

For each 4-ounce bottle of vanilla extract, you will need:
2 or 3 vanilla beans (we used 2 1/2 beans per bottle)
1/2 cup of vodka
kitchen funnel
1 cup measuring cup


  1. Give your kids a clean pair of scissors, and have them cut each vanilla bean in half lengthwise and then again crosswise, and stuff all the pieces into the bottle.
  2. Now they can use a funnel to pour the vodka in. This is easiest to do if you have first measured it into a small, spouted measuring cup.
  3. Settle your vanilla in a nice darkish spot, and leave it for as long as you can, shaking it when you think to. When you're ready to give it away, attach labeled paint chips with clear packing tape, and tie on a festive ribbon. And wouldn't it be nice to give with it your favorite vanilla-flavored recipe? Oooh, that's a good idea.

If your children are very particular about which bottles they personally filled, then you can mark the lids with tape, like I had to.

Read more about Catherine making Vanilla Extract with her family.

See all recipes from Catherine Newman's "Dalai Mama Dishes" blog.

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