It takes a few vanilla beans, a splash of vodka and a heap of patience to make your very own vanilla extract. Considering the price of vanilla extracts and beans I think it's well worth the wait. You get the most out of those pricy beans and definite bang for your buck.
Since starting my vanilla extract I read on the almighty internets that the only way to make a true vanilla extract is to obey the ratio of 6 or even 8 vanilla beans to 1 cup of alcohol. Anything less and you're just making vanilla flavoured vodka. Sigh. Where I buy my vanilla beans they come 2 to a vial for about $4.50 so 6 beans is going to put me back $13.50 and that's only going to be a hair more cost effective than buying it in the store once I go about the business of buying the vodka.
So I leave the choice up to you. If you'd prefer a more potent extract and have a cheaper source for beans then, by all means, stuff six of those suckers in the jar. If you're like me and can't justify the expense then just work with what you've got. You can always splash a little more extract in there for good measure because who doesn't like a little extra vanilla goodness?
3 - 6 vanilla beans
1 paring knife or pair of scissors
1 cup vodka
1 airtight jar (preferably dark glass)
Note: Vodka is the preferred alcohol to use when making vanilla extract because it has a neutral flavour and does not impart it's own flavour to the mix. Feel free to use rum, brandy or even gin if you'd rather infuse the extract with a little something extra.
Using your knife or scissors slice each vanilla bean in half lengthwise leaving one end intact to keep the halves connected. Place them in the jar and cover them with the vodka.
Store the jar in a cool dark place for at least 2 months. Make sure to give it a shake every few days to encourage extraction. It can last for years and get better with age just like a fine wine. Enjoy!