In order to make homemade vanilla extract, you need vanilla beans and vodka. I ordered Madagascar vanilla beans from Olive Nation at www.olivenation.com. I have a coupon code for 20% off at Olive Nation that expires in 30 days. It's 202012.
I bought 100 proof vodka that is triple distilled, the good stuff. Make sure your vodka is in a glass bottle, not plastic, unless you plan on transferring your vodka bean mixture to another glass receptacle for incubation. I decided on 15 beans per 1 L bottle of vodka this time. You'll find all kinds of bean:vodka ratios out there. Mine was somewhat arbitrary. I bought 60 beans and 4 bottles, so...
Gracie is demonstrating how you split the vanilla bean length-wise, leaving an inch or so at the top. The purpose behind splitting the bean is so the gooey stuff inside (my technical term) more easily leaches into the vodka.
It's important that you incubate your vanilla bean/vodka mixture in a cool dark place. I chose an abandoned cabinet in our televisionless entertainment armoire. No one ever gets in there! The bottles are buried among my old graduate school notebooks and dissertation. I've read that the vanilla extract can be ready within a few weeks or as long as 6 months. The variation probably has to do with the initial concentration of vanilla beans and the desired concentration of extract. You're supposed to invert the bottles every week or so, but I usually forget to do this after the first week. I'm not planning on bottling this new batch of extract for at least 5 months.
The picture above was taken when I bottled my Christmas extract. I designed the label myself. It says, "Not your ordinary plain vanilla extract." Get it?
Everyone I gave my vanilla to seemed truly thrilled to get it. I think people are becoming more aware that what passes for food in the grocery store is largely imitation. This is an easy way to get the real thing!
Oh, and for you latte aficionados, homemade vanilla extract makes wonderful homemade vanilla syrup for flavoring your fancy coffee drinks. Have you seen the additives in those commercial syrups?
I've played around with a few recipes and settled on: 1 c water, 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/4 c white sugar, 2 T homemade vanilla extract. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Let cool and store in fridge. Try it and you'll never go back to the artificial stuff!