Making your own vanilla extract might seem silly, but it is one of the most practical things to make yourself. When you bake often, you go through a lot of vanilla. Pure, high quality vanilla is expensive. I would go through a bottle almost every other week. When I saw that how easy it was to make my own vanilla, I decided that I would try it out. I found a nice bottle, bought some vanilla beans in bulk, a bottle of vodka, and invested about 10 minutes of my time. I started my bottle this time last year, and have not bought vanilla in almost a year. You can make it with bourbon, but I prefer vodka. For no other reason, I like to see my progress, and it is much easier to see in a clear liquid. Since I bought vanilla beans in bulk, I had about 35 leftover, and have been using them in everything. Vanilla bean adds so much depth of flavor to baking, and the black little seeds running through your baked goods is just plain sexy.
When I use a vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out, I add the leftover pod to my main jar of vanilla. When I am starting to get low, I just add more vodka, and let it sit. I keep a smaller bottle of vanilla in my pantry, and just head to my vanilla extract supply when I start to run out. The resulting vanilla is floral, and has no additives like store bought vanilla can have. I bought some small brown apothecary bottles and made these into gifts for all of the bakers in my life. I found cute little labels at anthropologie and added a little bow.
1 bottle vodka
10-15 vanilla beans
1 large bottle with a tight fitting lid