Buying good quality vanilla extract can be outrageously expensive. Every time I walk through the baking aisle of the grocery store I stop at the vanilla shelf in hopes of finding some on sale. Do they ever put it on sale?! Looking down at my already full cart and knowing I'm probably over budget forces me to grab that cheap little bottle of imitation vanilla. No. Thank. You. So, while I was in Costa Rica I bought some incredibly vibrant smelling vanilla beans so that I could make homemade vanilla extract which is not only EASY... but it also cuts the cost down majorly.
5 vanilla beans (at least 6 inches in length)
1 bottle good quality vodka*
With a sharp knife split the beans open from the top and leave about 1/2 inch together at the bottom. Place split beans in bottle (I used a 1 liter bottle) and pour vodka over beans to fill the bottle. Place bottle in cool, dark place. Let sit for at least 8 weeks. Every week give the bottle a good shake.
Whenever you use some vanilla you can replace what you used with more vodka.
*Don't go too cheap when buying the vodka. It will taste too much like alcohol. The higher the quality of vodka the smoother and better it will turn out. I went with a middle-ground quality since I didn't want to spend too much.