Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe – A fun made from scratch holiday gift idea for your friends and family. Bourbon makes everything better!
It’s that time of year… We’re all wondering what sort of gifts we can make for out friends and coworkers, while sticking to our holiday budget.
Homemade gifts can be very special to those who receive them. Especially if you take the time to make something unique.
This year, why not give your friends a gift they can use in baking, cocktails, and even as homemade perfume!
What Is Bourbon Vanilla Extract?
Ok, this is sort of a trick question…
Most people’s first thought would be that Bourbon Vanilla is vanilla extract made with bourbon liquor. This is true and not true, all at the same time.
Originally bottles labeled “Bourbon Vanilla Extract” contained extract made from Madagascar vanilla beans, specifically from the island of Réunion, which was once called Ile Bourbon.
Therefore, modern day Bourbon Vanilla can be made with any alcohol, as long as it it also made with Madagascar vanilla beans.
However, today we are using bourbon in this homemade vanilla extract recipe, along with Madagascar vanilla beans. So I guess you could say it’s Double Bourbon Vanilla. *wink*
What Kind Of Alcohol Is Used to Make Vanilla Extract?
Technically, you can use any type of alcohol to make vanilla extract, as long as it’s 80-proof or 40% alcohol.
Store-bought varieties use a colorless, flavorless alcohol such as vodka. However, if you are making it at home, use what you like!
I find rum and bourbon make lovely vanilla extract that offers that little extra something to recipes.
Bourbon Vanilla Extract is a personal favorite, because bourbon has a rich caramel essence on its own. Therefore when infused with vanilla beans it offers a luxurious well-rounded flavor.
How To Make Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract
Making vanilla extract from scratch could not be easier.
- Simply pour bourbon in small bottles.
- Slit fresh soft vanilla beans open, so the seeds are exposed and can fall out in the extract.
- Cut the beans into segments.
- Then add a segment to each little bottle of bourbon.
- Close the bottles. Then shake and wait.
How Long Does It Take To Make Vanilla Extract?
If you plan to make Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract for your friends this year, you do need to start right away.
The actual prep-work involved to make vanilla extract takes only minutes. However, you do need to let your bottles sit for at least 4 weeks so the vanilla bean and seeds can infuse into the bourbon.
In a pinch, you could give your bottles away after 2-3 weeks, hoping your friends won’t use them for a little while. The extract will still taste delicious; it just won’t be as strong.
How Long Does Pure Vanilla Extract Last?
In theory, vanilla extract should last forever. You are likely to use it up long before it could ever go bad.
If kept in a cool dark place (like the pantry) vanilla extract can last for years and years. However, too much light or heat could certainly effect the extract negatively.
Another perk you might add to your gift label, is that you can keep topping off the bottle with additional bourbon for quite some time. The vanilla bean will just continue to infuse into the bourbon. If you add a little splash of bourbon to your extract bottle every couple weeks when you bake, you won’t have to buy (or make) vanilla extract for a couple years!
Is Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Expensive To Make?
Not at all! You do not need to buy expensive liquor, because the cheap stuff works just as well.
The only reason I would ever consider buying a pricier bottle to make extract, is if you are making one large bottle of vanilla extract for a friend and want a certain bottle shape or label.
Fresh vanilla beans can be expensive, depending on the type of beans, and the year you buy them. Some years, crops are lean. Therefore, the beans are more expensive. I’ve also noticed some extract recipes call for a lot more beans, so each batch would be more expensive to make.
However, after much experimentation, I’ve found that as long as you use very soft fresh beans, and cut them open so the seeds are exposed, there’s no need to over-stuff the bottles.
In this recipe, I’m only using 6 beans to flavor an entire 750 ml bottle of bourbon. Fresh beans = Less beans needed = Less cost!
More Homemade Gift Ideas
Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract
Pour the bourbon evenly into twelve 2-2.5 ounce bottles.
Cut a long slit down the length of each vanilla bean, so they open exposing the seeds. Then cut each bean in half, to create 12 short pieces.
Place one vanilla bean segment in each bottle. Close the bottles tightly. Then shake vigorously.
Allow the bottle to sit at least 4 weeks, before gifting or using them. Every few days give them a vigorous shake.
To make one large bottle: Open a 750 ml bottle of bourbon. Slit the vanilla beans. Cut them in half. And stuff all the vanilla beans in the bottle. Shake and sit for 4 weeks.