I have been making my own vanilla extract for years. It has a better flavor than the store bought and has a longer shelf life as well. Vanilla is a very common extract used in baking. Most brands use a syrup which is primarily sugar water to give the vanilla a sweet aftertaste. However, this is really unnecessary when used in baking. My kids love helping make this and it is a great way to spend time with them.
3 Vanilla Beans
1 Cup Vodka
Glass Jar with tight fitting Lid
Step 1: Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise using a paring knife or kitchen scissors. Be sure to leave the ends connected for now.
Step 2: Place the vanilla beans in the glass jar and cover completely with the vodka.
Step 3: Place lid on the jar and shake it every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer. You can continue to add vodka to it once in a while as you use it and just remember to shake it up to allow the vanilla to spread within the vodka. This vanilla will last for years.
TIP: You can also add vanilla beans to your white sugar and allow the vanilla to infuse with the sugar giving it a vanilla flavor for baking. Another nice little treat is to add some vanilla bean to your olive oil. It is very good and can be used for just about anything. Just remember to shake it well and allow to set for a week.