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How I learned what a fifth of Vodka is: vanilla fun!

Yes, you can make your own vanilla.

1) Go to the store and ask to buy a quart of Vodka.  Now wait for the store owner to explain to you that you can’t buy a quart.  You can buy a little less than a quart OR you can buy way more than a quart, but not quite 2 quarts.  Take his word for it.  Look low on the liquor store shelf for the cheapest 70 proof Vodka you can find.  Get 1.75 L.  I spent $12.99.

2) Drive home.  Or walk home.  You, know, cut down on greenhouse gases and all that.

3) Measure out 4 cups of vodka–and tada–you now have a quart!  The amount of booze you have left in the bottle is about “A Fifth!”  *** What shall you do with your remaining 1/5 gallon of Quality House Vodka, do you ask?  Well, I hear it’s good for dry cleaning.  The man behind the counter also assured me that it would be tasty if I drank it with the Walmart brand of lemon lime soda.  It’s still sitting there at the back of my pantry.

4) Slice open and scrape out the vanilla bean seeds from about 1/4 pound of vanilla beans, a messy but lovely job.   Cut the pods in half so that they will submerge under your vodka.   I found a good deal on beans through Amazon–$12.49 for 1/4 lb.

5) Combine your quart of vodka and vanilla beans and pods in the container of your choice.  Obviously, a quart jar is not going to be big enough.  If you want to keep your vanilla in your Quality House bottle, then just measure out just shy of 3 1/2 c. of vodka.  What you have left is…..a quart.

6) Let sit.  Shake occasionally.    In about 3 weeks, I’ve heard you can start using your vanilla for your cupcakes.  Just replace the alcohol, teaspoon for teaspoon.  As time goes on you’ll realize that this is not an exact science.    I don’t think you can mess this up.  Most recipes I’ve found tell me that the vanilla extract will be excellent at about 3 months and it just gets better after that.

Money talk:  I spent $25 to get 32 oz. of vanilla.  That’s about .79 an ounce.  If I want real vanilla extract from the store, the kind without propylene glycol, colorings and other gremlins, I will pay $8 for 2 oz. of McCormick’s.

Here is a link to a recipe from the experts.


***  Technicalities:   A fifth gallon of alcohol would be 25.6 oz.  It is, however, sold  in metric units.  Thus, a 750mL bottle is 25.36 oz. and  1.75L  bottle is  59.1745 oz.  If your recipe calls for a quart, or 32 oz, you can use the power of subtraction to find out that:

59.1745 oz. minus 32 oz. equals 27.1745 oz.

Now, 27.1745 oz. divided by an 8 oz. cup will give you  a measure of about 3.4 cups.  Hmm.  That’s somewhere between 3 1/3 cups and 3 1/2 cups.  You can eyeball it, right?


About onlifeandbeans

I like to make the adventure taste good by cooking tasty, wholesome food. Most of what I've learned in cooking, I've picked up from cookbooks and lots of practice. (Thank you, Fannie Farmer, for the right start. ) I so appreciate cookbooks that tell how and why to do something; that's why I do the same for my readers. I want to know what is in my food. I want my family to sit down and share a meal together. I want our food to taste good. Home-cooking takes time, but it gives back rich dividends in budget minding, good health and familial love. One meal at a time.

3 responses »

  1. Jackie Flemming

    I started making this as Christmas gifts a couple years ago, and it was a huge success. I found a brand of vodka that already came in a decorative swing top bottle and just printed my own labels to cover the original.

    I haven’t used store bought vanilla since, and I am amazed by the difference in flavor from the store bought. You can really tell the difference with things like homemade ice cream, or vanilla icing.

    • Jackie!! Hello! Tell me about your recipe. What beans did you use, etc?

      • Jackie Flemming

        I really didn’t get anywhere near as technical as you have. I first learned about this from a friend of mine who had a Kansas gift shop in downtown Hays several years ago. She sold a homemade vanilla kit, that was nothing more than a couple of beans in a decorative swing top bottle, you bought it and added your own vodka.

        I didn’t really have a recipe to start with, so I just guessed at it. I searched high and low for decorative bottles, but didn’t find much and what I did added quite a bit of expense to the project. Then I found the 360 brand vodka ( I bought several of the smallest size, which I believe is a pint and added 4 beans to each. I just split my beans down the middle leaving one end in tact and drop them in. Let it set for a minimum of 6 weeks. I ordered my beans from a website that specializes in vanilla beans ( I chose the madagascar beans.

        I am really enjoying your blog. I share your desire to feed my family as wholesome meals as possible. In fact starting tomorrow we are embarking on a 21 day unprocessed food challenge. We’ll see how well we do, as I type this Josh is setting in the chair next to me with a bag of potato chips. I guess he is trying to get rid of them before tomorrow so he won’t be tempted.

        Hope to see you at the fair this year!

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