Update: the great vanilla experiment after 6 months

Remember back in January, when the world was cold (for us in the Northern Hemisphere anyway!) and hope manifested itself in the promise of a seven-year supply of homemade vanilla? Split some magic beans, tuck them in a bottle with a lot of vodka, and in mere months you’d be laughing at the suckers who buy their extract at large tent sales.

It seems like only six months ago. Oh yeah, that’s because it was.

Today I pulled it out of the cupboard where I’d hidden it, it looked like this:

At the six-month mark

At the six-month mark

I’m not sure if we split the beans right or crossed our fingers tightly enough to release the ย beans’ essence. Our “vanilla” sure looked a bit light, especially when I compared it to the one I bought at the store.


Our homemade version was also very watery (like vodka straight up) rather than syrupy like the other.

And the taste? It’s vodka lightly spritzed with a vanilla flavor. Very lightly. Again, it might be because we didn’t treat the beans nicely enough or it could be that it needs to age a lot longer.

My kids didn’t care at all. I had promised to bake two sets of cookies — one with the homemade vanilla, one with the store-bought stuff — for them to taste-test. No matter that there’s only one teaspoon in a whole batch. No matter that the one teaspoon you do put in only serves to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients. A promise — especially one about cookies — is a promise.

So today I diligently made the different cookies and set them out in a blind test. The results? They pretty much looked the same.

Can you guess? The version with our homemade vanilla is on the left.

Can you guess? The version with our homemade vanilla is on the left.

And they tasted exactly the same, although if pressed, 3 out of 4 people living in my house chose the ones made with store-bought vanilla. I couldn’t tell a difference at all. One teaspoon of extract doesn’t stand a chance with all that sugar and chocolate chip goodness.

So back into the cupboard it goes. I’ll check on it in another six months or so and see what it has to say for itself.

Ingrid over at Now At Home Mom (and if you haven’t seen her blog — well, what are you waiting for?!) is also trying the same vanilla experiment. I can’t wait to see what results she gets….

About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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11 Responses to Update: the great vanilla experiment after 6 months

  1. Time With Thea says:

    Hi Joan, there is quite a colour difference between the two versions. I’ll be interested to find out the results six months from now. At least this experiment is low maintenance. ~Thea

  2. I was wondering how your experiment was going! I just bought another bottle at the store last week! I wonder how much I have spent on vanilla in my lifetime?

  3. so happy you posted about it Joan, just last week hubby and I we were talking about this and I was going to write to you about it! now that we read your post, hubby and I we went at the kitchen to look at ours and it’s pale light like yours and smells and tastes a lot like vodka ๐Ÿ˜‰ Mine will have 6 months next month but after seeing yours I think I should wait longer too! ๐Ÿ™‚ I wonder if I would’ve been able to taste the difference between those cookies ๐Ÿ˜‰
    thanks again Joan for posting, I will keep you posted about this next month ๐Ÿ™‚
    wish you a beautiful weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m so glad that you wrote this! I was sure that we had seriously messed up the directions. My husband goggled for a while and found that others had used a LOT more split vanilla beans in their versions. I’m still willing to wait to see how this looks in another few months, but I may be buying more beans to amp up the extract. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I’ve heard that home-made vanilla always beats store-bought! I was going to test out this theory for myself…maybe I’ll just keep an eye on your blog though!

  5. I just bought the beans so I could do this same thing. I’ll be watching for your update so that you can read my future ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Can’t wait to see how yours turns out. I really wonder if it was the beans that came in our kit or maybe there just weren’t enough of them… At any rate, I hope the vanilla bean gods are smiling down on you!

  6. Thanks for the update. I am going to continue to follow you and Ingrid’s progress. And then once you two have it perfected, I will give it a go. lol. Seriously…it is on my list to make as part of our preserving series. I just keep forgetting to buy a bunch of vanilla beans.

    • I always knew you were a smart cookie! ๐Ÿ™‚ If I can give a little advice… Buy a lot of beans (like 10 or so). Our little kit came with about 4 and it just doesn’t seem like enough.

      I’m watching Ingrid’s too. My guess is that she’ll have better vanilla mojo than I! ๐Ÿ™‚

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