Real vanilla is expensive. Imitation vanilla doesn't taste as good, and some of them taste like chemicals to me.
I saw on a blog how to make vanilla extract yourself. That's a good idea, right? That way you control what goes into it and how much. And the ingredients can be way less expensive than buying the prepared product.
So, we sent away for some vanilla beans. The vanilla beans I found at the grocery store were dried up and you only got 3 beans for about six dollars. I bought vanilla beans on amazon.com (pure Madagascar vanilla beans), 16 for about $10. (Though if anyone wants to tell me where to get quality beans for even less, do tell!)
I saw Suzanne McMinn's process on Chickens in the Road. She knows how to do a LOT of things and make a lot of ingredients herself. She even taught me how to make homemade cake mix. Yay!
So, anyway, we followed her method, but we are using just a little bit different alcohol, just to see. Here is her recipe for the "big bottle method."
I love orange vodka. Well, I love lots of flavors of vodka! But I usually have orange on hand. So, our first batch is made with orange vodka.
Not to be left out, Jim wanted vanilla made from Jack Daniels whiskey.
So, that's what we did. It takes about 3 beans per cup of alcohol, and it takes about 4 weeks for it to "do."
We'll let you know in about 3 more weeks how it went. Here are our pictures (and I recommend you follow Suzanne's instructions).