Vanilla extract can be pricey and good vanilla extract can be super pricey. Why not make your own using vanilla beans? This is an easy recipe DIY recipe for making your own extract and it's great for gift giving!
Use the Grade B beans. My instincts said I wanted only the best; I wanted Grade A beans. After doing my research, I found the reason beans are labeled Grade B is they contain significantly less moisture and are less attractive. They are smaller and contain many imperfections (splits and cracks). However, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans (Grade B) are processed using a "Bourbon" curing method. This creates a very distinct flavor and aroma profile that make these beans the most popular and sought after for making Vanilla extract because they produce better flavor.
Vodka or Bourbon?
This is really a matter of choice. Vodka is typically cheaper for gift giving. Bourbon has a nicer flavor. But you aren't planning on drinking this, it's used in baking and the alcohol burns off in the baking process.
4-5 Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans (Grade B)
1.5 Cups of alcohol either Vodka or Bourbon
1 Airtight bottle
Cut the vanilla beans in half, then make one long slit down the length but not cutting all the way to either end so the bean infuses better but doesn't separate. Place in clean, airtight bottle and fill with 1.5 cups Vodka or Bourbon. Gently swirl the beans to infuse the alcohol. Place in dark, cool location to infuse for at least 3 months and swirl to infuse 1 a week. Extract can be used after 3 months but it's even better if you let it infuse up to 6 months.
You can refill the alcohol for up to a year and the beans will continue to infuse.
Want to get more out of your Vanilla beans? Use them to infuse sugar first! See our recipe for Vanilla Infused Sugar here.