The price of pure vanilla extract has been going up over the past few years. There’s nothing like a global Covid 19 pandemic to get people to become more resourceful at home. Here is a terrific DIY project with 2 ingredients. This is costly but may last forever…. And definitely cheaper than the store purchased kind. Please check out websites such as smittenkitchen.com, inagarten.com, and sallysbakingaddiction.com for details on the maintenance. In summary, you leave the alcohol and beans sitting for 8 weeks – 6 months and shake once a week. When you take off vanilla, top up with fresh alcohol and some beans if its been >6 months.
Vanilla beans (such as Madagascar) and vodka (or bourbon – any flavourless inexpensive alcohol)
Use a clean 64 oz. (1.8 L) Mason jar to store the vanilla. Use 1 whole vanilla bean for every 2 liquid ounces of alcohol. I used 24 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and placed vertically in the jar. I then poured in 48 oz. (1.42 L) of unflavoured vodka. Seal the jar tightly and keep in a dark cupboard. Give the bottle a good shake at least once weekly and after 6 patient months, it is ready to use.
As you begin to use your vanilla, you can refill with a little vodka each time. Give it a shake after you refill and before each use, too. After about 1 year of frequent use and refilling, you will find the vanilla flavour less intense. Simply remove old beans, add fresh beans, shake and continue to use/refill. Aged extract without the beans will last indefinitely.