I've been interested in making vanilla extract for a long time now. Those little bottles are expensive, the contents don't taste that good, and my sister has been making extract for ages. Therefore, I must do it!
Berkeley Bowl, so I did some poking around. Not only do they have vanilla beans, they have screamingly fresh ones! First I found dried vanilla beans starting at eight bucks. That seemed steep, but I was resigned to it.. until I stumbled on a bag of FOUR beans for four bucks in the bulk section. (As a side note, they smelled a LOT like the super sweet body lotion/candles.. who knew they were so true in their scent?)
So... with four beans in hand, I started reading up on making extract. Wow, do the recipes vary. I wound up going with 1 bean (chopped & scraped) per 4 ounces vodka. I bought a bottle of 8-dollar vodka at Trader Joe's and used 12 ounces and three beans. I'm saving the final bean for.. something.
It's only been a few weeks but it already looks great. I did a taste test between MY extract and some store-bought and I think mine tastes better already. Just wait until it's properly aged! (The ubiquitous They say six months.)