I started googling 'homemade vanilla extract' and saw that there were lots of posts in the blogging world about homemade vanilla extract. Huh. Who would've thought? I quickly decided to make my own...and a trip to Penzey's was in order. I bought 5 tubes of vanilla beans. I was shocked when the cashier asked me if I was making vanilla extract! She said that they had been selling a lot of vanilla beans lately, and that many people are making the extract now to be given as Christmas gifts.
After reading lots of posts about it, here's what I've learned. You can use vodka, rum, or bourbon. It's really up to you and your tastes. Vodka has a very 'clean' taste...it doesn't really add flavor to the vanilla, so that's what I chose to begin with. You should use a dark colored glass. Apparently sunlight is bad. I'm not sure why. Of course, I don't have any dark glasses handy (although I did see one post where the person put the vanilla extract into a dark colored beer bottle...sterilized, of course. The thing is, you need a lid. I'm not sure where they got one.) I decided just to use a pint jar and a plastic lid, and I'll keep it in a dark cabinet. If I happen to come across a dark colored glass with a lid (at a good price), I'll get one (or two or three). Also, the jar of vanilla extract that you make can be a never-ending jar. You just add more vodka and more beans as you use it up. You could have the same jar for years or decades! Lastly, vanilla beans will give you all of their flavor in about 6 months. You can then remove them from the jar and re-purpose them (more on that a little later).
If you're a baker or you use a lot of vanilla extract, making your own might be an economical decision. You could also develop your own signature flavor (depending on the liquor your choose or the strength you make it). Do you want to know how it's done? Well, I'll show you!
First, get a clean glass container with a lid.
Then slice 6 vanilla beans lengthwise. This exposes the beans on the inside. There is no need to scrape the beans out of the pod. Next, cut the pod into sections about 1 inch long.
Next, add 16 oz. of vodka.
Then, shake the jar, and admire!