Vanilla extract. Store bought is good enough. Penzey's is even better, but it's so darn expensive. Why not try making your own? I understand it sounds a little ridiculous at first. You might not want to take the time. You might be thinking you have better things to do, and sure, maybe you do. But at least when you're done, you have something to show for it. Let yourself adjust to the idea. Okay, was that enough time? Are you with me now?
This recipe is easy enough to make a gallon at a time. You might not want a whole gallon, but when I'm baking a lot, I sure do go through those 11$ bottles pretty fast. Plus, little homemade-labeled bottles would make such cute little Christmas gifts!
One note on purchasing vanilla beans: If this is truly cost effective, you sure can't buy vanilla beans from the supermarket for 9$ a pop. I bought mine in bulk from Vanilla Products USA.
Some recipes online call for adding sugar, but it's not really necessary if you're using it as extract instead of a vanilla liquor - which would be another great project.
- Sterilize pint sized Ball jars.
- Split fresh vanilla beans 3/4 of the length of the vanilla bean with a sharp knife.
- Place 4-6 beans split side down into jars.
- Fill each with vodka. No need for the super fancy stuff. I used Smirnoff, even though I'd typically drink Grey Goose or Belvidere.
- Seal jars. Place in a spot out of sunlight. Aggitate every few days, or whenever you think about it.
- Use after six or eight weeks.