Before I go any further, you really need to know that the initial expense of this is high, depending on the amount you want to make and the quality of the finished product. I use a lot of vanilla extract, and I know a lot of people who love to bake. To me, it just made sense to throw caution to the wind and make a huge batch of it.
You can purchase vanilla beans in the grocery store, but be prepared to pay a hefty sum for just one or two beans. But keep in mind – the cost of making it yourself is still cheaper than purchasing it at the store, plus you get a better quality. (I am comparing true Vanilla Extract – not Vanilla flavoring.) For homemade vanilla, you really need at least seven beans – and that’s for a ‘short’ batch. For what I made, I ordered these beans, used twenty and had five left over to use in my flavored sugar and other treats. These are Madagascar Vanilla Beans, which are the best. You can also order other types and smaller quantities. Your vanilla will still be delicious!
Below are the instructions to make a short batch and a tall batch. If you want something in between, just gauge your quantities.
1 cup (plus a splash) of Vodka or Rum
7 vanilla beans
1 glass jar with lid – large enough to hold the liquid
Split your beans lengthwise, but do not cut all the way through. Put them in the glass jar, trimming to fit. Go ahead – toss the trim pieces in there too. Pour Vodka or Rum over the beans until they are submerged. Seal the jar with the lid and set aside in a dark place to age. Allow to age for at least two months, but preferably 8 months or longer.
1 liter Vodka or Rum (I used a mid-quality Vodka)
25 – 50 vanilla beans
Large glass jar with lid
Use the same method as with the short batch.
*The more beans you use, the stronger the final product will be. Keep in mind that most bakers are not going to want to use a weak variety, so go ahead and add a few extra beans!
Now, add some of that homemade vanilla to a delicious cookie recipe!