4 vanilla beans**
1-750ml bottle of rum, vodka or brandy*
Using a very sharp knife, slice the vanilla beans down the entire length of the bean but not all the way through. The objective is to expose the seeds inside, not to slice the bean into two pieces.
Submerge the beans in the alcohol, and seal the bottle tightly.
*Vanilla beans can be difficult to find and very expensive to purchase. Believe it or not, I recommend checking out a local health food store. Many health food stores carry Frontier organic herbs and spices at surprisingly low prices. I've also found good beans at a local beer and wine making supply shop.
I also save my old beans. When it’s time to brew another batch, I add a fresh bean or two to the bunch and mix both the old and new beans with new bottle.
**Rum, vodka, and brandy are all good choices for making vanilla extract because they absorb the flavor of the vanilla easily without adding any new flavors. The biggest difference is color. All three will yield a brown vanilla extract, however the brandy will be much darker. For the longest time, I only used cheap vodka to make my vanilla. Then I met a chef who swears by rum, so I gave it a try. I definitely liked the rum better. Even though many people say that vodka has no scent or taste, I noticed a definitely alcohol taste and smell with vodka. In the end, it boils down to personal preference.
Making vanilla extract at home does require patience. However, it has saved me a significant amount of money. The first time I made vanilla, I only make a quart. My initial investment on that quart of vanilla extract was equal to the price of a single 4-oz bottle store-bought extract. I got eight times the vanilla for the same price! Now that’s worth a little patience!
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Grace and peace be yours in abundance.