Homemade Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract ~ low carb & AIP

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.
It is not a substitute for your doctor's care plan or advice.

Homemade Vanilla Extract that's Alcohol-free! If you're avoiding alcohol for dietary or other reasons, getting the great flavor of vanilla can be hard, but you're covered with this simple recipe!

Today, Erin from Eat Real Stay Sane is sharing a fabulous recipe for Homemade Alcohol-free Vanilla Extract.

Most vanilla extracts on the market, and more homemade vanilla extract recipes call for alcohol. So why alcohol-free? 

Why Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract?

There are a number of reasons why you might want an alcohol-free vanilla extract recipe.

Reasons to Avoid Alcohol:

  • addiction issues – those who have a history of alcohol addiction need to avoid alcohol in all forms, including extracts
  • religious reasons – some religions ban the use of alcohol strictly
  • dietary reasons – some diets limit or don't permit alcohol. The candida diet is one such diet, as is the AIP (autoimmune protocol, or autoimmune paleo) Diet. If you're heating a recipe using alcohol, then it will burn off, but if not, avoiding alcohol is required with such diets.

If you want an alcohol-free vanilla extract, you need vegetable glycerin for steeping the vanilla beans.  However, often glycerin is made from corn or soy, so that's a whole other problem.

So making your own alcohol-free vanilla extract is the way to go. Then you can source your glycerin without GMOs. 

Another bonus for vegetable glycerin-based vanilla extract is that it tastes amazing. 

Glycerin is naturally sweet, so this Homemade Vanilla Extract tastes lovely just as it is. My son LOVES licking the spoon when I bake with it!

So with that, here's Erin to share with you her recipe.

But first, I should explain something.  In reality, this is not truly an extract.  Since there is no alcohol used it really is a vanilla flavor since alcohol extracts better than the alternatives. However, if you are needing to avoid alcohol, this works great. 

Homemade Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract

Some of my most memorable cooking experiences involve vanilla. For me, measuring a teaspoon meant filling it until it overflowed into the cookie dough – or not using a measuring spoon at all.

So “1 teaspoon” really meant 2 — minimum.

And, the smell? LOVE it. If you don’t take at least a quick whiff whenever you're baking, I’m not sure you’re human.

Unfortunately, stores mostly sell cheap imitation vanilla, or “pure” vanilla extract with added ingredients and a hefty price tag.

Instead let’s make it ourselves – especially with Christmas nearly here. What better gift than world-class homemade vanilla?

Why Avoid Store-Bought Vanilla Extract

Like most grocery store items, the story is in the ingredients. Like other food labels, the labels on vanilla extract aren't exactly honest.

Most of what Americans buy at the store is the imitation vanilla. It's much cheaper than true vanilla extract, so it's appealing that way. But the ingredients are far from natural, often containing artificial flavors, caramel coloring, and corn syrup. No thanks — especially for something that doesn’t taste anything like true vanilla.

The next option is to buy pure vanilla extract. This is a better option for non DIYers, but there are drawbacks. For example, McCormick brand vanilla extract carries a price tag of $23.20 for a pint. Not exactly budget friendly.

Caution: even if the label says ”100% pure vanilla extract,” there can still be extra ingredients (like corn syrup!). That label just means that the vanilla flavoring comes from vanilla beans – not artificial flavors.

Why Alcohol-Free Vanilla?

The term “extract” means that the product carries 35% alcohol. When you buy pure vanilla extract, most of it contains vodka, bourbon, brandy, or rum.

We don’t like to use alcohol for religious reasons. However, alcohol may affect probiotics. So if you use vanilla made with alcohol to flavor your yogurt, you might reduce the benefits of the yogurt.

So today I'm going to show you how to make your vanilla with glycerin instead – aka vanilla glycerite, or with water if you can't have glycerin.

What is Vegetable Glycerin?

Glycerin comes from palm, coconut, corn or soybean oil (that’s why we always buy organic) that’s gone through a process called hydrolysis.

The oil is heated under pressure with water until the glycerin splits from the fatty acids and is absorbed by water. Then it’s further distilled to enhance purity. Glycerin is a clear, sweet, thick syrup.

It’s commonly used in food manufacturing because of it’s sweet flavor with fewer calories than table sugar. Our bodies also metabolize glycerin more slowly than sugar, preventing a blood sugar spike.

However, there are a few drawbacks to using glycerin as opposed to alcohol — flavor and shelf life. We love the flavor, but others swear by rum or bourbon vanilla.

The shelf life for a vanilla extract is about 4-6 years, while glycerin-based vanilla lasts about a year.

Homemade Vanilla Extract that's Alcohol-free! If you're avoiding alcohol for dietary or other reasons, getting the great flavor of vanilla can be hard, but you're covered with this simple recipe!

This Christmas, we’re making this extract to give as gifts. Who wouldn’t appreciate their own bottle of delicious homemade vanilla extract? Especially when they take the lid off and get that first smell – it’s almost intoxicating!

But, it takes 2-3 months to make, so get started now to have it in time for Christmas gifting.

By the way, any of the following links may be affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I might make a commission. Your support is much appreciated and helps keep this free resource up and running.

Homemade Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract ~ low carb & AIP

Serves 1 pint     adjust servings

This Homemade Alcohol-free Vanilla Extract needs only 2 ingredients and it tastes great! Perfect for gifting and for special diets!

Ingredients

  • 7-10 vanilla beans for each pint of glycerin (you can use up to 14 for stronger flavor, but it's more pricey). There are a lot of varieties of vanilla beans. I would opt for at least 1/4 pound to save money by buying bulk.
  • A nifty bottle that holds a pint of liquid. Beanilla has some snazzy bottles, but we bought these bottles off of Amazon.
  • 1 Pint of USP grade, non-GMO glycerin. (For THM use alcohol instead of glycerin.)

Instructions

  1. Slice the vanilla beans vertically. Don't remove anything, just toss them (bean and everything) in your bottle.
  2. Add the glycerin, put the lid on, and put it somewhere out of the way.
  3. Once a week, give the bottle a good shake (after 4 weeks you can shake it 2-3 times per week). Over time, the glycerin will turn dark. It’s ready when you take the lid off and you’re overpowered by the fragrance. As long as you give it least a few months, you're good.
  4. Leave the vanilla beans in, and they’ll continue to add flavor the longer it's stored.

by

Recipe Notes

If you find the glycerin to be too thick for your liking, add a little water and shake until you get the consistency you want.

For those needing to avoid glycerin (like those on the Trim Healthy Mama diet (THM), use alcohol. Some say you can use filtered water and store in the fridge to steep, but I'm not comfortable with that as bacteria would likely grow very quickly.

1 review

There!

You’ve made your own vanilla for much cheaper than the store-bought good stuff. Plus it's healthier and tastier than the imitation versions.

Enjoy – and let me know how it went!

Erin Smith from Eat Real Stay Sane - Guest Writer for Whole New MomErin and Cameron Smith, owners of Eat Real Stay Sane, teach people how to adopt a healthy lifestyle. They focus on real food, eliminating toxins, and overcoming chronic illness. Their secret is to cook homemade substitutes of foods they like – but with healthy ingredients. Get their free ebook, “Guilty Pleasure Recipes Without the Guilt.” You can follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.

Comments

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  1. would it work better to make an alcohol extract, blend in the glycerine and then heat it over low heat to burn off the alcohol?

  2. I actually can speak to the 4-6 year shelf life of alcohol based extracts: I made some vanilla extract using the whole bean, in probably gin or vodka. I put it in an old brown cleaned bottle of what was worchestershire sauce. I “found” it again nearly 20 years (that’s TWENTY YEARS) later and it was so good I almost drank it up straight!!! So, with alcohol, it will last much longer than 6 years! (granted, in a brown glass bottle, in a dark cupboard, so how it is stored does matter…)
    I’m going to try with rum, next time, but I may also try this…
    I totally understand why someone might want an alcohol free version….so should have some of this on hand just in case.

  3. For the THM version do you use only the water, salt and beans?

    • Yes, and I am looking at a xylitol syrup that I think would work as well. I’m thinking just use xylitol made into a syrup but trying to figure that out.

  4. We don’t drink alcohol either, but we do use it in tinctures, etc.. and there is a minimal amount of alcohol in kombucha, water kefir, milk kefir. etc. The BIble says it is okay to use alcohol for specific circumstances, & we don’t use it to excess, so we have no problem using it for more medicinal & health type uses. Just curious… do you also not drink fermented foods & drinks like water kefir, kombucha, & milk kefir because of the minimal alcohol content?

    It’s great to have an alternative to the alcohol version of products. That said, I try to avoid glycerin because it can cause dental issues, by coating the teeth which can then not allow teeth to heal naturally should they need to heal, as well as other issues.

    • Hi there. I have heard of that glycerin issue but I did research on it and can’t tell that it’s valid. I do not avoid alcohol personally but I will ask Erin to chime in on the other question. Thanks for reading!

    • I’m with you E on using alcohol for medicinal & health type issues. I’m not an herbalist, but I’m pretty sure it’s basically impossible to make effective tinctures without alcohol and herbal tinctures are so much better for you than the big pharma drugs! The gut healing amazingness of fermented and probiotic food/drink is just fine with me as well and we do consume them.

      I agree with Adrienne on the glycerin. I’ve heard about that, but not really convinced if it’s true. I have a dental appointment next month so I’ll ask my dentist to get info straight from the source! I feel like since you usually only use a teaspoonish of vanilla for flavor, you wouldn’t have to worry about it coating your teeth but not sure.

      • I think I read that the glycerin is easily brushed off. Is your dentist holistic?

        • No I haven’t ventured into the holistic dentistry realm yet. I do love going to the dentist though and getting my teeth cleaned! We don’t do the fluoride treatment though.

        • Not sure if you were asking me or not, but we did use a holistic dentist for a while until his rates went to $500 just for a CLEANING, EXAM, & 4 bitewings… AND they STOPPED taking insurance!! Uhmmm, NO WAY!!

          Also, he COMPLETELY missed the one kiddo’s teeth that had cavities. He said her teeth were stained & pitted, but NOPE… DECAY!! He told me one of teeth were SOLID & the next day that same tooth BROKE in HALF!! After that we were done there… I figured if we were going to pay $1,000 per YEAR for ONE person to see a dentist, we should just see a traditional dentist for OUR WHOLE FAMILY (& STILL SAVE THOUSANDS of $$$$) in our network that we could afford, & try to find one that was at least not super insistent on fluoride & x-rays no matter what, like many of them are. AND we would spend money NOT on OVERPRICED dentists for doing nothing special that an in-network dentist couldn’t do, PLUS have money left for GOOD food :). Sure, I’d love to be able to afford a natural dentist, but for us it didn’t work out that way & has worked well doing it this way.

          Our traditional dentist is great! X-rays ONLY 1x per year unless NECESSARY, no fluoride (or dye for our kiddo with dye allergies) even in the polish if we don’t want it, a parent sits with our young kiddos (or whomever wants Daddy or Mama with them, young or not), & great with kids!

          We’ve been blessed so far with the dentist we have had for a couple of years, & are grateful for open minded dentists who work with their patients, when many refuse to do so. I am grateful for our dentist!

          • I was asking the author, but that’s fine. I appreciate your comment. I personally do not care for the holistic dentist who is local to me and go to an “open minded” traditional dentist. It’s working well for me as well. Thanks for sharing!

      • TY for your input too. It’s nice to know I am not on the wrong track in using alcohol as we do for medicine & as a result of fermentation in our creations :). I am making sauerkraut right now.,. have to go pound it down. Just shredded about 12 heads of cabbage… even with a food processor, it’s a lot of work, but well worth it.

        We have had dental issues with a kiddo so I am super alert when it comes to anything that **may** contribute to dental issues. It made no difference no matter the oodles of super heathy diets, whole foods, great fats, low sugar (& grains, carbs, etc.), alkalinizing, etc. It is enough to drive one bonkers!

        We did find out part of it was a BAD dentist who CREATED CAVITIES by doing HORRIBLE dental work previously.. don’t even get me started on that one… but there were issues before he came into the picture… though he created issues after the initial issues were all taken care of.

        Anyway, I do think gut flora makes a huge difference, as well as food allergies, & know it can be SO HARD to balance it all (especially with a large family like I have).

        I had another kiddo with a cavity that HEALED with BLACK WALNUT extract (the alcohol tincture, not the glycerin version, though I heard both can work; which would then kick out the glycerin & cavities idea… sigh.. lol.. I used the alcohol tinture though JIC after what I read about glycerin). Anyway, we still had to get the cavity itself repaired because the tooth broke (deep cavity that we didn’t catch for a while) & there was not time to wait to see if it would fill in & frow back (I rad that could take up to a year & was not willing to risk my child’s oral health waiting all that time), BUT the DECAY itself was GONE and the gum & all the tissue underneath was all healthy when they went to fix it (previously it was decayed BADLY & they thought it was going to have to be pulled instead of being able to fix it). I certainly wished it didn’t have to be fixed at all, but great knowing the black walnut really helped.

        I applied it twice per day directly to the cavity… 3-5 drops per tooth… & then just let it sit (we did it in the AM after eating & before bed). You can take it in water but my kiddo wanted it straight on the tooth instead. I do feel the direct, undiluted application REALLY worked well. We did it for two months before the decay was all gone, but it was deep. That kiddo also fell (not very far either, but a direct hit to the mouth) & injured four upper, front teeth. We were told they would probably all four need to come out, if not the two center ones. One is a very light gray now (it was DARK gray for a while) & NONE of the teeth showed any injury on the X-rays, nor did any have to come out. The black walnut helped save those teeth! I didn’t even know about using the black walnut on teeth until a week after that injury, and it still helped greatly. Oh, the kiddo used to CRY when I would brush the four front teeth so I had to use a hand brush for a long time on those ones & a power toothbrush on the rest. One day when I saw the huge difference in tooth color & after the dentist told me the teeth all looked great minus the slight gray tint to the one tooth, I used the power brush on ALL of his teeth & he didn’t even realize it… NO PAIN! I was SO relieved & thankful to the Lord for the healing!

        Then, as if that wasn’t enough stress, another kiddo climbed over a barricade to keep him safe, & injured one of the same front teeth the other kiddo did… there’s a chip in the tooth too. His tooth is STARK white & NO graying at all.. his tooth is FINE aside from the small chip. I applied a few drops of black walnut to his teeth for a couple of months too, anticipating them turning gray, but they never did!

        Oh, I do know that I did read the glycerine does get brushed off, BUT that it takes 15 brushings to do so… in which case if you are using glycerin containing paste,, etc. it won’t get brushed off.

        I proceed with great caution after our journey. I would think that maybe most people without dental issues would probably be fine, but maybe those with dental issues it could pose an issue for them & to be watchful :).

        • The glycerine information is very confusing. I think this article is worth reading. What do you think about it? http://www.myfamilydentist.ca/glycerin-and-remineralization-of-teeth/

          • I think the article sounds promising, but like anything these days, I have learned not to put all of my eggs into one basket. I think with our bodies & immune systems being complex, unique, etc. that maybe what causes problems for some & not others, is outside the “norm” or “usual”, so it is probably best to keep differing views in mind. I often say that I make the best decision with what I know at the time AND I reserve the right to change my mind if I ever find out that the information I based my decision upon previously was not accurate, not accurate for me or mine (like I used to use peppermint for many things… it is healthy, has many benefits, etc. BUT now I am ALLERGIC to it… & I react to it… so now I know I canNOT use it for ME and MINE.,. without risking MY health, but that doesn’t mean that peppermint isn’t great for those not allergic or sensitive to it), etc.

            I like & agree with some of the author’s info about healing tooth decay, but I also feel there are some holes in his views too. I think that is the nature or humanity. There will ALWAYS be another view… and again, I do think that just like no two people are identical, not all things are good for all people (minus Jesus ;0).

          • I agree. What specifically did you think were the holes in his views? Thanks!