This is absolutely not an original idea. I wish I could remember where I first saw this, but I've searched through my bookmarks and am still clueless. Trust me though, there are a lot of different sources that you can find throughout the internet when it comes to making your own vanilla extract. For example: this one or this one. I absolutely love the idea of homemade commonly used items or gifts and so, I am super excited to share this with you.
Aren't you already super excited? The list of ingredients is so short! The only pain is that the vanilla beans can be somewhat pricey, but you can find them in bulk online for somewhat cheaper. I bet you might even be able to find them at a natural or whole foods type store for somewhat cheap as well. I unfortunately had to spend $6 on two vanilla beans.
You start this whole thing off by filling your container of choice with vodka. I used a somewhat cheap vodka, but if you feel like splurging then I bet your vanilla extract might turn out even better. The general rule that I came across when researching this whole process is that you'll need around 3 beans per cup of vodka. These little glass bottles that I found were about 4 oz. each. I found them in a pack of four at Pier 1 Imports. Due to their small size, I decided to use one vanilla bean per bottle.
Cut a slit down the middle of your vanilla bean. You'll want to start the slice about a half of inch down the bean, and make sure not to slice all of the way through the bean. This just helps to keep it more intact and less messy for the whole process. You want to expose the seeds, but you don't want them to all fall out before you even get it into the bottle.
You should have a nice slit down the middle of your bean and you should be able to see (and smell) all of those seeds that are on the inside.
Now you just stuff the bean down into your vodka. My bottle was a little short, but the bean conformed nicely to it.
That's it! This is the final product of the first one that I had made as a bridal shower gift. Okay, here's the kind of sad part. You're not REALLY done at this point. You have to let your vanilla sit for around 3 months. Let it sit somewhere dark (such as inside of a cabinet). You'll also want to shake it every once and awhile. It will change in color from clear (that you see above) and should end up looking like, well, vanilla extract. Then you'll be able to use it for quite some time because you just top it off with vodka as you use it. I'll make sure to update you once mine is finally ready to use. Hope you enjoy this idea as much as I did, whether you use it for yourself or for a gift.
Until next time.