Why This Recipe Works
Making vanilla extract at home can save you about $1 per ounce; the keys are buying beans in bulk online, using a basic vodka, and having a little patience. Alcohol acts as the solvent since it will extract the flavor from the beans; we use vodka (rather than rum or bourbon) for the purest vanilla flavor. Splitting the pods and scraping out the beans helps speed along the extraction process, as does gently heating the vodka. Since the seeds and pod will settle to the bottom of the jar, shaking the jar weekly will encourage more full and even extraction. For a classic, all-purpose extract, use Madagascar vanilla beans. Tahitian beans will produce a more floral flavor and Mexican beans one that’s bolder.