I always used to have a conundrum when I went to the store to buy vanilla. I wanted good quality vanilla so my baked goods would be delicious, but it’s so expensive! My budget usually won out, and I bought the cheap imitation vanilla stuff. Then I did a little research on the internet and found out how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract and I don’t think I will ever go back.
All you need is a large resealable bottle, several vanilla beans, and vodka.
Just put the vanilla beans in the bottle (Currently I have 7 in my bottle, but various sites call for up to 12, so I will reassess after its brewed for a while) fill it up with vodka. Let it sit for about a month and then use just as you would a store bought extract. You can shake it occasionally if you remember. If you are worried about the alcohol content, you can heat the vodka a little to burn off the alcohol before you bottle it, but I prefer not to dirty a pot if I don’t have to.
You can also use the vanilla beans in the extract. Just snip off an end and squeeze out the seeds. As you use up the extract or the beans, you can refill, so that you never run out.
As for cost, its a small investment upfront, but I think it works out to be quite a bit cheaper in the long run. I bought this bottle at Ikea for a few dollars. The vodka in the picture is from Trader Joe’s and cost me all of $11. As you can see, there is still quite a bit left for me to refill or use in drinks later. I order my vanilla beans from amazon, where you can usually find them for under $1 a bean if you buy several at a time!