I LOVE a good DIY. I have been wanting to make my own extract for like two plus years. Why have I hesitated…who knows. Vanilla beans are not cheap, I happened to get mine off Amazon around the Holiday so they were not terribly expensive. The original recipe for this is from Smitten Kitchen. She has fantastic references for finding vanilla beans (David Lebovitz)…two sources I trust for cooking advice so win! The short and dirty of the recipe is buy beans, get a bottle, and buy alcohol (cheap vodka!). Let you just let it do it’s thing. You’ll want it to sit at least 2 weeks, though I’ve let mine rest for 6 and it is unbelievable. I’ve heard people say homemade is way better and you will never go back. I thought to myself, that’s a pretty big sell for extract….but my GOD they were right! It’s so good. I starting using vanilla in recipes that don’t usually call for vanilla, because it’s that good. I would say, if you are interested in making extract, DO IT! Do not wait years like I did.
I’m not going to insert a formal recipe here, because it’s not really needed. The original recipe I link to above has a lot of great references, so I highly encourage you to look that over too.
First, you want to get vanilla beans. Amazon is a great resource for some, and your local stores as well, though they tend to be much more expensive.
You will need to get a bottle to store your extract. I happened to have a bottle on hand that I recycled for this, but you can get them here. Or check Amazon.
Buy Alcohol. You do not need to get anything super fancy at all. You can leave the Kanye grade vodka for a special occasion, the cheap stuff will work perfectly. Some folks suggest other alcohol as a base, but I prefer the straight vodka.
The measurements are 1 whole vanilla bean for every 2 liquid ounces of alcohol. I did 8oz of vodka and used 4 (or 5) whole vanilla beans. Split each bean lengthwise and drop into your empty bottle. Fill with liquid and give it a few shakes. Place in a cool dark cabinet, away from the light. You will want to let this sit for at least 2 weeks, though I highly recommend the 6 weeks. I know, it’s basically torture but it’s worth the wait.