Vanilla extract from the grocery store can be very expensive, especially if you’re baking all the time because almost all sweet treats have vanilla in the recipe. As an alternative to buying it from the grocery store, make it at home! It is really very simple. You only need 3 things: vanilla beans, vodka, and a bottle with a cap. Some recipes say to let the extract sit in a cool, dark place for 3 months before using (to let all the flavors meld together), but I think 6 weeks is just fine. Being patient has never been one of my strengths. If your bottle is ever running low, just top it off with more vodka, and eventually (after about a year) put a new vanilla bean in. These little bottles make great gifts for Christmas, or any other holiday, or even birthdays! This year for Christmas, I gave a bottle to my aunts and grandmother. Just be sure to make extra for yourself, you’ll be glad you did!
Homemade Vanilla Extract (adapted from The Comfort of Cooking)
Makes one 4 oz. bottle of vanilla
3-4 vanilla beans
about 1 cup of vodka
Use a paring knife and cut each vanilla bean in half. Then take the halves and cut down lengthwise, being sure not to cut all the way through the bean (it should be opened up, not separated in half again). Place the beans in a bottle with a tight fitting cap along with about 1 cup of vodka.
Store in a cool, dark place and shake every once and a while to make sure the flavors are marrying well.