It's very easy to make homemade vanilla extract and also very economical. Homemade vanilla extract also makes a wonderful gift.
I don’t usually buy my vanilla beans from the grocery store because they are not usually high quality at my grocery store and they are typically more costly. Madagascar vanilla beans are popular. I’ve usually bought the Tahitian ones though (that actually come from Papua New Guinea now it seems). I’ve gotten my vanilla beans through Penzey’s, The Spice House, and Amazon.
You can save money by buying a large bottle of vodka, using recycled bottles, and ordering your vanilla beans online in larger quantities. Just be sure if using recycled bottles that they allow for easy pouring, are a similar size to pints, and that they don’t retain a strong smell (i.e., don’t use a jar that formerly contained pizza sauce).
I read one opinion that unless you use six vanilla beans per cup of alcohol, you are making vanilla-flavored alcohol. Well, I’ve been using this ratio for years and have been happy with the results.
The vanilla doesn't have to be ready for use when you give it as a gift. Recipients usually love watching the vanilla get extracted and already have vanilla extract on hand that they can use until your gift is ready.
I just made the bottle of vanilla extract shown in the first photo so no extraction has taken place yet. In a very short time, the extraction process will be evident as the vodka begins to turn amber.
You can see the extraction happening in the second photo. With those bottles, I used more beans that I usually do because I wanted to use all the beans that I had immediately. I also used both approaches to see which approach extracted the vanilla more quickly.
For the two bottles on the left, I cut the beans through the center, but did not split them apart completely. For the bottle on the right, I cut the vanilla beans into 1-inch sections. As you can see, the bottles on the left are becoming vanilla much more quickly. So if you need your vanilla extract sooner rather than later, use the approach where you split the bean in the middle, but not from end to end.
Recipe by gfe--gluten free easily at https://glutenfreeeasily.com/homemade-vanilla-extract-and-honey-butter/