Friday, February 3, 2012

Gluten-Free Homemade Vanilla Extract ~ A Gift to Yourself & Others

I used to make vanilla extract with bourbon, not knowing much about liquor.  Did you know bourbon is made with ground corn and rye?  Who'd have thunk that vanilla extract could contain gluten?  So I have switched over to using vodka when making vanilla extract, making it gluten-free and GAPS friendly.

Making your own vanilla extract tastes better, takes minutes to make, and saves money.  The only thing I have to get over?  Buying a bottle of vodka with four kids and all the looks I get.  Especially when I'm eight months pregnant.  I have to resist the urge to tell the cashier and everyone who walks by my cart that I'm making vanilla extract!  Don't judge!  Oh well.  It's worth the superior vanilla extract I'll soon enjoy and have ready to use as gifts, not to mention the money saving bit (see below for ideas).

So here's whatcha need:
  • 1 liter vodka (be sure to check that the vodka was distilled with potatoes and not grains)
  • 12 vanilla beans
And here's whatcha do:
  1. Cut a slit down each vanilla bean, lengthwise.  Then cut them all in half.
  1. Drain about one once vodka from the bottle and stick vanilla beans in the bottle.  Set in a dark place (like a cupboard) for at least 6 weeks before using, giving it a gentle whirl when you think about it.  The longer it sits, the better and darker it gets.
Even more money-saving tips:

Save empty spice jars to have on hand when you want to give some vanilla extract as a gift/to add to a gift basket.

When the extract is all used up, use vanilla beans instead of extract in recipes that require a blender or food processor.  A general rule of thumb:  1 teaspoon vanilla extract equals 1/2 vanilla bean.  You can use vanilla beans in the following recipes:
Okay friends.  It's your turn.  Go buy some vodka.  You can do it.  Just picture an 8-month-pregnant me waddling through this task.  And after you're done laughing, get on wit yo bad self!


  1. Yum!! Thanks for sharing... I know what will start brewing in my cupboard this weekend.

  2. haha.. and i love that i was there when you made this one! :)

  3. Laura strohmeier foustFebruary 3, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    I do this and it makes a superior vanilla to anything I can afford in a fancy store. I actually got a make your own kit from tjmaxx or somewhere like that, and the directions said to let it sit for 5-6 months but the beans could be reused up to seven times. I'm on my second batch right now and it's still as good as the first but it definatly takes some patience.

  4. this is how i make it and we love it! the people i gave it to last year as a christmas gift asked if refills were included in the gift. :) it really is super easy and tastes amazing. i like using "mexican" vanilla beans. beanilla is a great company to buy beans from and they have so many yummy varieties.

    my recent post: what is real?

  5. Such funny timing! I was actually thinking *this morning* "I wonder if vanilla extract is GAPS legal? I should text Katie.". :)

    Glad to know you can read my mind!

    Miss you & hope you & that beautiful family of yours are doing well!

  6. I just wanted to let you know that the only vodka that I know of that is gluten-free is 'Blue Ice'. The others are processed from wheat and 'Blue Ice' is processed from potatoes.

  7. Hi there. The vodka I used was also distilled using potatoes. But it is a good point to check the vodka before using it. Thanks! :)

  8. Katie, do you transfer your vanilla extract to dark bottles? Or just keep it in a dark cupboard or what?

  9. I store it in the vodka bottle (clear) in a dark pantry. :)

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  12. Kerry McKinley Bergus PayneJuly 9, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    I just checked on the vanilla extract I started this past's looking good and can't wait to give it as gifts. I giggled when I saw your blog post and said to my daughter..look!!! I am turning in to Katie Riddle! haha

  13. That's a great price on the vanilla beans. I bought vodka once. It was to get some dandelions "drunk", LOL. Couldn't help but tell them what I was buying it for. :)

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