There are three good reasons to make your own vanilla extract at home. First, it’s frugal. I know you’re probably not going through hundreds of dollars worth of vanilla extract and it’s probably not a major expense in your household. But still, that stuff’s like $5.49 for a tiny bottle! Anyway, being frugal is like the new coolest thing.
Second, it looks cool to have a pantry stocked with all kinds of odds and ends you made yourself. If someone’s there and you bust out some pickles you made and then start whipping up a cake with vanilla extract that’s from an unlabeled jar, that person is totally going to be like “Hmmm. Impressive.”
Third, it tastes good, really good. Homemade vanilla extract has more perfume-y, sweet vanilla flavor, and you have the flexibility to use high-quality beans. Vanilla extract is a key ingredient in so many recipes, and this version packs a wallop of rich vanilla flavor and fragrance.
Also, it’s very easy.
Homemade Vanilla Extract (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vodka, rum, or brandy
1 vanilla bean, split in half
Heat the vodka just until it starts to steam. Pour it into a 1 cup jar. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the out the seeds. Immerse the seeds and bean in the jar. Allow to cool to room temperature. Seal.
Shake daily for 10 days, until the extract is a rich brown tone and has just a bit of vanilla oil on the surface. Strain if you like. Store the tightly sealed jar in a dark cabinet and use normally.