Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract and a Short Break

I still have more than 1000ml of Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract when I made this. I knew the homemade version will take quite a while before it can be used, so I made it 1 year ahead. But I decided to give them away this year for Christmas as they were ready by now, dark and fragrant. I’ll make more later when I’m halfway through my big bottle.

For those who don't know that there is real and fake vanilla.... Yes, those that you buy off the supermarket shelves are fake stuff. Even in bakery supply stores, all are fake unless it is stated as "Vanilla Extract" and not vanilla essence. Vanilla Essence is fake, tiruan, imitation, not real.

Why did I still buy that huge bottle of Nielsen Massey thingy even though I knew long ago that vanilla extract can be homemade? I thought Nielsen Massey will smell super fantabulous. Well it did smell good (and tasted good)…………… but if you were to compare it with imitation vanilla… it’s like on a 3/10 for intensity. Quite faint actually, if you ask me. So, if the so called best vanilla extract smells only like that, oh what the heck, just make my own and give that a 2 for a much lower cost than the 3. LOL.

I bought this bottle of vodka for RM10.90(about this). Cheap? Haha, very. I won’t want to buy a 1L bottle of branded vodka at duty free and keep it for ages and ages. Call me cheapskate, I am. I truly am.

So, why did I choose to use a cheap vodka and not branded stuff like Smirnoff or Absolute Vodka? The problem is, liquor is very very expensive here. If I were to make it with vodka from these brands, it’s actually even more expensive than buying a bottle of Neilsen Massey all the way from US.(I have people to bring it back for me) Yes, homemade will cost more than the best brand. One litre of liquor plus vanilla beans will cost me double of bringing back that bottle. That much you see. If the intention is to lower the cost, why not just use a cheap vodka. Anyway, it’s the alchohol level that one is looking for, as long as it’s 40% you’re good to go.

It’s pretty easy, just throw in 3 vanilla pods per cup of vodka, but since my vanilla pods weren’t of top notch quality (I bought them from Bake with Yen, I did buy some much better ones online much later on), I threw in 6 pods, all snipped into half into 330ml of vodka. Let them sit in a dark cool area for many many months and you have your home made vanilla extract. No need to buy that Nielsen Massey.

Homemade Vanilla Extract
First saw on Simply Recipes

250ml 40% level Vodka
3 quality vanilla beans (use more if beans are inferior)
(I bought a 330ml bottle vodka , so I made the extract right in the bottle itself using 6 pods)

Split vanilla beans lengthwise and put into vodka. Place bottle in a cool dark place (cabinets, not the fridge) until the infusion turns dark like strong black tea. It will take 2-3 months. Shake it from time to time.

All dressed up for the occasion, Christmas!

I'll be taking a break from blogging because I will be very very busy these 2 weeks with a few birthday cakes to bake for my loved ones. So, postings and new recipes will resume in 2012. And there will be something new on my blog, Random Sunday, blogging about anything not within weekly themes.

Merry Christmas and see you in 2012

Reuben at 6 months


Since Elin asked where to buy Vanilla Extracts, here are some links. I bought mine from Amazon too.
Click on the pictures and you will be brought to the relevant product.
Check out the right panel "More Buying Choices" to see prices from other sellers in Amazon.

This is the 32 oz (944ml)

A smaller bottle at 4 oz

Another resource for savings on kitchen supplies are these buy.com coupons.


  1. Wendy...how come I dont get a bottle of your homemade vanilla extract? :p OINK !!! My brother will be coming back mid 2012 and I have asked him to get me a bottle of vanilla extract from US. What is the better brand in US ? Merry Xmas to you and have a swell Christmas!

  2. Elin,
    that brand u see there la, haha.
    Eh, if you ask ur brother to buy hoh, Walmart only sells very small bottles. You can get huge bottles like mine on Amazon. I get the link into the post if you want to buy. It's best that you buy them online and get it sent to him.
    I bottled these after I met you, hahaha!

  3. Wendy..pls send me the link. I will do that and have it sent to him :))) great idea and I have some vanilla beans from UK Joanna bought for me when she was there. My son going to UK come Jun 2012 so I can get him to buy some back muahahaha.

    Forgot to mention that Reuben looks handsome wei...jaga oh when he is grown up a little...will have all the little gals chasing him :p you will have no time for baking anymore LOL!

  4. I'll love to have a bottle of homemade extract too :p

    Think we got the beans around the same timeframe. My beans are still on the shelf and so is my vodka.

  5. Elin,
    Online shopping is addictive! My husband is lucky that we stay so far from US, hahaha!
    Buy Pyrex and Corelle too, dirt cheap la over there. But Thanksgiving sale is over, but Christmas sale isn't yet. So quickly shop shop shop!
    There are vanilla pods in Intrico too, and they smell really good, plump and it is soft. But pricey at RM5 per pod. If ur son can get it cheaper than RM5, then worth all the trouble.

  6. Btw, I bought my Smirnoff Vodka (1L) from Duty Free @ less than $20. Is the price dearer in Msia?

  7. oh yay. u finally got the ribbons hehe

  8. oooo can make also . I thought can only bought from stores. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  9. Wendy, your little Reuben is so cute and adorable...Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas and Happy Holidays..I also going to Holidays lor, ^_^..

  10. BH,
    what are u waiting for la.. haha.
    I think it's more expensive here. I think.
    Haven't bought one before but non duty free Absolute vodka is like 120 something for 750ml.

    Swee San,
    Hahaha, yeah. LOL.

    Small Kucing,
    can make.. and it's the real stuff. Bought ones are fake, especially those in Malaysia.

    Happy Holidays to you too.

  11. I also just make my homemade vanilla bean paste^^
    I am sure will try this method to make my homemade vanilla extract.
    (since u r using Nielsen-Massey vanillan extrect, u must try its vanilla bean paste!
    Sure u will like it :) )

  12. I also want to try to make vanilla extrect but Seremban sell vanilla bean very expensive.Last time my friend have buy for me 3 vanilla pods at Bake with Yen.She told me RM 1 for one pod.Seremban is RM5-RM10.Anyway,wish you and your family
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.And HAPPY HOLIDAY.See you next year.

  13. Thanks Wendy...I shop online for cooking books most of the time :p addictive !!! Ok will check it out:)

  14. Thanks Wendy...I shop online for cooking books most of the time :p addictive !!! Ok will check it out:)

  15. Have a good hols. Merry Christmas.

  16. yeah...homemade vanilla extract sounds so good...you are really great, Wendy!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family! ^^ See you...

  17. i was excited to see this vanilla extract in B.I.G in Publika Solaris Dutamas last week was tempted to get it but not enuf money to spend but will definitely getting a bottle of it the price are RM40 plus for the small 1 and RM100 plus for the bigger bottle .

  18. Wendy, those bottled vanilla extract look so presentable! Reuben is really cute. I can see hints of your daughters in him.

  19. that's such a great idea! and t's au naturel!

  20. what a lovely gift !! hmm..looking forward to your random sunday. Merry christmas and enjoy your break!!

  21. Wendy,
    wow, you made paste? that I really need to learn.

    It's cheaper if you buy 100gm from BWY. Each is RM1. But then again, if the one from Seremban is moist and plump, it's actually a better bargain than BWY of which are dry and fragrance not that good.

    enjoy ur shopping!

    thanks :)

    thanks, not that great la. Many bloggers have made this before.

    How big is the big? My big bottle isn't available here. The small bottle you see there (of which could be the big bottle you mentioned) is sold for S$28 in Singapore. I think that is the one at RM100 u get here. I've seen one Australian ginger jam selling at RM28 that is actually only A$2.80 in its home country.

    Thanks. Reuben is actually a mini of his papa. People like to joke that if he gets lost in town, others will know where to send him home without asking because seeing him is like seeing his dad, in mini form. LOL.

    Shu Han,
    Yeah, I'm giving this to my friends who don't have access to real extract.

    haha.. I hope i have the time to maintain random sunday.
    U enjoy urs too!

  22. Hey, your vanilla extract looks good, I am also in the midst of soaking mine, the alcohol smell is still rather strong, so have to wait a bit before I can start using it. I was also wondering about the mild smell of the real vanilla beans.

  23. Firstly, your boy looks so cute! Secondly, I love your bottles! Very nice...where u buy them? You know I make my own vanilla too, i have been using my own aged vanilla extractfor the past year and awaiting for my next batch to ripen by March next yr. Haven't blog about it because I can't find nice bottles to contain them...haiz! Btw, that giant nielsen Messey is great! Made me want to get it too, lol!

  24. Oh ya, happy holidays! Looking forward to you random Sunday posts!

  25. Jeannie,
    I heard some add sugar to tone down the smell.
    Yeah, the vodka smell is very strong.

    Too bad I can't go to KL this weekend, if not I hope to meet u. :)
    The bottles are actually medicine bottles. They used to contain pills, consumed by an aunt. Hahaha! I washed and sterilized them. They are pretty sturdy and lasted a few drops by my curious girls. Made in Germany :p
    Reese told me you give her vanilla extract each time, LOL. Yeah, get that big bottle the next time u fly back.

  26. will revisit and take pic of it =) . yeah imported items can be ridiculously pricey in Msia while where it's originated from is actually not that high of a price .

  27. Oooh vanilla extract, a precious thing to own...wanted to ask u bout those bottles too but got my answer dy. have a great xmas n new year's. Ur boy is jus precious!

  28. ♥,
    Definitely :)

    Actually medicine bottles are very nice. I tried saving Neurofen bottles, because they are brown, better for keeping vanilla, but I don't have enough for giving away as presents. Luckily the aunt asked me if I wanted these, haha! I never expected to find these at her place.

    No la, chop papa. LOL

  29. Reuben is so adorable. :) Still wondering how u manage 3 kids and baking...

    I made my own vanilla extract too... Most people thought "oh, the store bought extract is good enough". Really, they didn't know those were man made. Even Wilton's clear vanilla EXTRACT have the word 'imitation' printed small on top.

    but i do see real vanilla extract that contains alcohol in cold storage. Very very expensive. about RM 50 per small bottle.

    I got my Bacardi Rum 1L at LCCT for about RM 60. Hubby don't trust those cheap vodkas. Hehe...

  30. Your friends will be very happy to receive the homemade vanilla extracts. I too like making my own as I can get the beans pretty cheap here. Reuben is growing up to be a very handsome young man :)

  31. Reuben is so cute! Hope you have a great Christmas and New Year, Wendy! May the new year bring good health and happiness to you and your family!

  32. Love the idea of making your own vanilla extract. Will definitely try it, after i get the vodka and pods of course.

  33. Rueben is so cute. He has ur smile Wendy.

    Happy Holiday, Happy Dong Zhi, Merry Christmas and a very happy new year.

  34. Wow, homemade vanilla as Xmas present. How thoughtful of you.

    Reuben is so cute. Pls kiss him on my behalf.

  35. What a shame I missed seeing you and Reuben. He is more cute than the last time I saw him. What a charming smile he has. I have quite of lot vanilla pods which we bought from the US too. Now I can make my own vanilla extract with your recipe. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family. See you next year. Hugs.

  36. Hi,Wendy & Elin,
    Just for your info, i saw Manis Bakery(Previously Phoon Huat, in Taman Segar,Cheras,near Leisure Mall,KL) is selling the original Neilsen Massey vanilla extract in 100ml orginal packing.

  37. Joy to you, love to you, everything good to you this season. Have a blessed Christmas & New Year! Enjoy your break ;-)

  38. Lucky is the person who receives the homemade vanilla =) Blessed X'mas to you and your family!

  39. Love this idea Wendy! I'd love to try this at home - how long can the homemade vanilla last for?

  40. Nars,
    It will last until you finish it.

  41. Is it necessary to sterilize the bottles? AK

  42. AK,
    For me, I won't risk contamination.
    I'll do it.

  43. Can you please teach a good way on how to sterilize the bottles? Covers included? AK

  44. AK,
    Boil them. Let them air dry

  45. Hi, I'm planning to buy some vanilla beans from amazon. Which will you recommend? Viv

  46. You're not kidding? My DFS bought Smirnoff Vodka is only $18+. And I have someone to bring back vanilla beans too, at US$23 for 54 beans. Since using 3 beans to 250ml, I only need 12 beans for 1000ml. With all the conversion, 1000ml homemade extract only cost SGD$26! Good deal!


  47. Viv,
    I don't know much about vanilla beans. It depends on which smell you like or what you are going to use them for.
    Some reading up on the internet on the types available and the recommended usage will help you make your decision.

    Good for you, but I got my Neilssen Massey for only USD25/1L
    Which is why it's more expensive to make for me.

  48. Hi Wendy,
    I'm going to try making my own extract too but I would like to know if I need to clean the vanilla pods before immersing them in the vodka?
    Thank you,

  49. Hi Wendy,
    Also, I would like to know if I can make the extract in a half filled bottle? This is because I only have enough vanilla beans to make 500ml vodka in a 1L vodka bottle. I won't be able to get any additional vanilla beans so I am thinking of pouring out half the bottle of vodka so as to make the 500ml extract with the beans I have on hand. I am wondering if a half emptied bottle will affect the process of making the extract. Do you have any idea? Thank you, Lynn

  50. Lynn,
    Just snip the beans shorter. As long as they are submerged, it is ok. The beans don't have to remain at its full length or needs to be upright

  51. Lynn,
    don't wash them, they aren't that dirty. Don't introduce water to the vodka

  52. Thanks Wendy for your reply. Greatly appreciated it. I was worried that the air gap in the half empty vodka bottle will affect the process of extraction. So as long as the beans are submerged in the alcohol it's fine right? I had a hard time searching for a suitable bottle if I can't use the original 1L bottle. By the way, can I assume that it will be air tight after I added the beans into the newly opened vodka bottle and use back the same cap? Thanks again for your advice.

  53. Lynn,
    I am afraid that I am not an expert in this. Personally I will use back the same bottle, same cap and just keep the beans submerged as I do read from some blogs that they top up the vodka from time to time as they use and pour from it. You can top up with beans as well, that's what I read from other sites.

  54. Thank you Wendy. I have proceeded with the extraction. Now is the waiting game. Hope it turns out well. I love sniffing vanilla in my kitchen.

  55. Can we reuse the beans after 3 months soaking in the bottle for baking purposes or just throw it away?? Can we use less than 40% of alcohol level to make vanilla extract?? Thank you....^ ^

  56. May,
    Lesser than 40% alchohol will make the extraction less effective.
    The flavours are already extracted from the beans, I am not sure if you can still scrape the seeds to use.

  57. Do you mind to tell me the brand of vodka that you used to make your vanilla extract........... Thank you.... ^ ^

  58. Hi Wendy,

    The Vodka (350ml - RM10.9) that I bought smell like thinner.... Can it be used???? Is this a normal condition or it shows the alcohol that I bought is fake but I got it from shopping mall??????><"

  59. Judy,
    Vodka always smells funny. No matter what brand

  60. Hi Wendy,
    Do you still sell your vanilla extract?

  61. Hey Wendy,

    I was shopping online for Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract, and I came across your website! I'm inspired to homemade it. But may I know where do I get quality vanilla beans from online? As you mentioned vanilla beans from Bake with Yen was not so good, I survey from Amazon, but many aren't ship to Malaysia. Can kindly tell me where you bought the beans? Thanks dear!

  62. Joice,
    I bought mine from an American site, and got it sent to someone in US and hand carried to me. It wasn't mailed to my doorstep.
    Sorry yeah.

  63. Hello, thank you for the information about vanilla extract. I try to make vanilla extract use vegetable glycerin and corn syrup as alcohol substitute.


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