This is one of the most wonderful things I have ever discovered! It is so quick and simple to make your own vanilla extract. The only hard part is waiting the 2 months for it to be ready to use.
All you need is:
3 vanilla beans per jar
Vodka or Bourbon
Glass jars with tight lids or corks
Using a paring knife, slit the beans down the middle, leaving the ends intact. Place them in the jars and fill with Vodka or Bourbon. Vodka will make it taste like your typical extract. Bourbon adds a deeper flavor. Experiment with both to see which suits your tastes best.
Be sure to store them in a dark, cool place, giving them a shake every once in a while. You will notice the color deepen over time.
I like to find different shaped jars at craft stores for this to make cute gifts. I designed and printed labels on the computer and I have a space to write in the date it was made and the date when it will be ready to use. I always keep several jars on hand for my own use and to have some to give away.
Now you have no need to get store-bought vanilla extract again unless you need clear extract to ensure a white cake is absolutely white.
A couple of other uses for Vanilla Beans:
1. Slit a couple of beans down the middle and place in a jar with granulated sugar and you will have vanilla sugar. I love this in my coffee!
2. One trick I learned to help keep a cake moist is to brush with simple syrup before frosting. You can use vanilla beans to make a vanilla simple syrup. I keep some simple syrup in a little squirt bottle with a couple of split vanilla beans inside. Before I frost and decorate a cake I drizzle this all over the top and let it seep into it and the frosting seals in the moisture.