Homemade Vanilla Extract
You'll need a few jars (depending how much extract you want to make), vanilla beans and alcohol (at least 35% by volume). Swing-top bottles or regular glass canning jars work great, as for the alcohol, vodka makes the 'cleanest' extract, with a pure vanilla flavour. For a darker, more complex taste a bourbon or dark rum based alcohol should be used. The general guideline is 5 vanilla beans per 1 cup alcohol. Slice your vanilla beans in half lengthwise, stopping 1 inch before one of the ends, this opens up more flavour. Simply place 5 halved vanilla beans into your container with 1 cup vodka, seal it, shake it and let sit for 6-8 weeks, when it will be ready for use. The more you let your extract sit, the more intense it will become - over time your mix will turn a dark, golden brown and the alcohol will be replaced by the vanilla's natural flavour.