DIY Vanilla, Lavender, and Ginger Extracts


Even before I went zero waste, I had a moment this Fall where I needed to buy vanilla extract for baking and just felt like I was WAY over paying for this teeny tiny bottle. Especially when the ingredients themselves were not actually expensive.  I could put a vanilla bean into alcohol and water, after all!

So I got experimental, with some guidance.  Once I decided to make one extract, I figured I'd just go for it with a few more since there would be leftover vodka (terrible, terrible vodka).


  1. 2/3 cups Dried lavender 
    • To buy: you can generally find it at bulk food stores, tea stores, or online.  For online purchasing recommend Victor's LavenderSan Francisco Herb Company, or Amazon.
    • Packaging: If you order online, though, you will probably get it in a ziplock bag. Many local stores will let you bring your own bag or jar.
  2. 3 Vanilla Bean Pods
    • To buy: I bought mine from my local Savory Spice, but you can also get them from Beanilla and Amazon.
    • Packaging: Savory Spice gave me the beans wrapped in foil, whereas many online stores will give them to you wrapped in plastic.
  3. 1/3 cup (45-50 g) peeled an chopped fresh ginger root
    • To buy: go to your local grocery store's produce section, ginger is relatively inexpensive!
  4. About 2 cups Vodka for each extract
    • To buy: The good news is you can use the cheapest vodka on the market for your extracts!  I got a 1/2 gallon handle of vodka for $11, the cheapest one in the store.  The smell when I opened it made me flashback to being a freshman in college again, but 3 months later I can now say the extracts all came out great!

Vanilla Extract Instructions

  1. Cut the beans once lengthwise. Make any necessary cuts to fit beans into your container.
  2. Put the beans in a clean bottle or jar.
  3. Add vodka
  4. Seal and let sit for 1-2 months.
  5. Invert extract several times a week during this period.
  6. Enjoy your awesome new extract!
  • My favorite use:  All my yummy baked goods!

Lavender Extract Instructions

  1. Measure out lavender
  2. Place lavender in a clean bottle or jar
  3. Add vodka
  4. Seal and let sit for 1-2 months.
  5. Invert extract several times a week during this period.
  6. Experience the glory of having lavender extract in your sweets!
  • My favorite use: adding a little to my vanilla ice cream and melting from happiness!

Note: Lavender extract is more difficult to pour because the flowers float, so I tend to filter most of the out at the end of the process.  The other solution is to put a small piece of fabric over the top of the bottle to filter them when you pour.

Ginger Extract Instructions

  1. Measure out ginger
  2. Place ginger in a clean bottle or jar
  3. Add vodka
  4. Seal and let sit for 1-2 months
  5. Invert extract several times a week during this period
  6. Fall in love with this strong, spicy flavor!
  • My favorite use: Adding a smidge to my chia tea! 

Keep it going

So now that you have some homemade extracts, you're never going to want to buy them again.  I do  a take a little, add a little strategy with extracts.  Once you've used a bit (maybe 1/4-1/3 bottle) add some more vanilla, lavender, ginger, or whatever you're making and add some more vodka.  This way you never really run out.  If your jar starts to get too packed with stuff, take out a bit of the old ingredient before you put some new in.

Price breakdown

Vanilla Extract:

  • 2 cups vodka: about $2.80
  • 3 vanilla beans: $10.95
  • 16 oz homemade cost: about $14
  • Store-bought cost: as low as $27.59 and as high as $55.95
  • Note: the vanilla beans I used are the quality used to make the $55 extract!


  • 2 cups vodka: about $2.80
  • 0.6 oz dried lavender: $1.65
  • 16 oz cost: $4.45
  • store-bought cost: $24.65 to $28.25


  • 2 cups vodka: about $2.80
  • 1/3 cup ginger: about $3.00
  • 16 oz cost: $5.80
  • Store bought cost: $17.65 to $21.85