Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe + Crème Brûlée Recipe

Tastes so good!


Find out where to cut your orchid's flower spike after it has finished blooming

homemade vanilla extract

Since Orchid Bliss is about learning how to grow healthy orchids, you might be surprised to see that this article includes a recipe for making homemade vanilla extract plus a crème brûlée recipe. What?!? I figured an orchid site would be incomplete without a nod to the vanilla orchid. How sad to think of a world bereft of vanilla. (Read on to discover why I included the crème brûlée.)

Be sure to download both the Vanilla Extract and the Crème Brûlée recipes available near the end of the post.

About the Vanilla Planifolia Orchid

Vanilla comes from the prized seedpod from three vanilla orchid species, vanilla planifolia, vanilla tahitiensis, and vanilla pompona orchid.

The vanilla planifolia orchid is a native of Mexico and Central America and, interestingly, is a vine. In order to get the vanilla seed pod, the orchid must be pollinated. In its native habitat, this can happen naturally by way of a tiny bee. Most commonly, even in Mexico and Central America, the vanilla planifolia orchid is painstakingly pollinated by hand. 

If pollination is successful, the seed pod will appear over the next couple of weeks and grows on the vine for about 6-9 months. The mature vanilla bean will be cut off the vine and cured. Curing is an involved process that involves scalding, sweating, and finally, sun drying for 3 months.

Homemade vanilla extract recipe

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What kind of vanilla beans should I buy?

That depends on what you want to do with them. For cooking, choose a Grade A bean. Grade A beans are soft and pliable with a soft interior that can be scraped away to use in cooking.

If you want to make vanilla extract, select grade B vanilla beans. These beans contain less moisture and are just right for making vanilla extract.  Grade B beans are also less expensive.

Vanilla Bean Flavors 

  • Madagascar Vanilla: rich and creamy
  • Mexican Vanilla: bold, dark, smokey
  • Indonesian Vanilla: mild, well balanced
  • Tahitian Vanilla: floral, cherry-chocolate
  • Tonga Vanilla: early, fig, raisin


DIY Vanilla Extract

I’ve made vanilla extract many times over the years, both for myself and to gift. When gifting it, I buy Avery labels and use one of their templates. I customize the template by typing “Homemade Vanilla – Love the Westons” or something equally clever, and it works just fine. I use amber 4oz bottles and polish it off with shrink bands

Since it takes a month or two for the vanilla beans and vodka to work their magic, you can still gift the beans even if the extract isn’t ready with a note that says vanilla extract ready on X date.

What You’ll Need to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract:

For your recipe to make homemade vanilla extract, click here.

Crème Brûlée – a Delicious Desert for Orchid Lovers

I couldn’t resist including a recipe that contains vanilla extract – Crème Brûlée.

As you know, sanitation is an important part of proper orchid care. I recommend using a kitchen torch to sterilize your orchid pruning shears. With that in mind, here is another use – the intended use for a kitchen torch – caramelizing the sugar for Crème Brûlée.

What You’ll Need to Make Crème Brûlée:

Click here to download a recipe for Crème Brûlée.


Want to Learn About Specific Types of Orchids?

Check out these downloadable orchid care cards to learn about the care requirements of specific easy-care orchids.


Related Reading

How to Care for Your New Orchid – A Complete Guide for Success

A Complete Guide to For Success


What to Do BEFORE buying an orchid

Laying the Foundation for Best-Practice Orchid Care


Orchid Lover’s Gift Guide

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Find out where to cut your orchid's flower spike after it has finished blooming