So some time last year my cousin shared with me the secret of making your own vanilla extract. Basically you put about six vanilla beans that you split lengthwise down the middle into a fifth of clear alcohol (i.e. vodka, rum) and let it sit in the dark for about six months. Shake it up every now and then and smell it because it smells good!
I got the vanilla beans at the spice stand at my local farmer’s market. I poured the finished product into the old vanilla extract bottle because pouring small amounts out of the big bottle was just messy. You can see it’s much lighter in color than the usual cheapie vanilla, but it smells and tastes just the same – and no weird extra ingredients!
Hardest thing about this is waiting for it to be done. Once you get a bottle going you can start the next so you’ll never be without fresh homemade vanilla extract again.