So this July, I gathered my supplies. Simply:
2.5 liters of vodka
2 growlers (any airtight container will do)
20 vanilla beans (bought here)
Approximate cost: $60.
(Tip: You can save money if you go ahead and buy more beans at once, instead of in multiple stages like I did.)
And here's what you do:
Extensive Googling led me to the consensus that you can use the vanilla in as little as three months, but the longer the beans soak, the stronger the vanilla flavor.
So I did all that for five months. It took forever.
Approximate cost: $43.
Then we had to actually get the newly made vanilla extract into the cute little containers. I seriously just sat staring at it, trying to figure this out. I knew my normal strainer wouldn't catch the small vanilla particles, but I was at a loss as to what would.
Then my husband came up with the genius idea of placing a coffee filter inside the strainer and straining the vanilla extract into a pitcher. Then I used the pitcher to pour it into a funnel into the containers.
Voila! Bottled vanilla extract.
Total cost for 24 bottles: $103. Unit cost: $4.30/bottle.
Now, who knows what I can do with 20 alcohol-soaked vanilla beans? Can I dry them out and make vanilla sugar? Or are they spent?