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Yates Scott shares his long time recipe for homemade vanilla extract. He hasn't used anything else for years. He says it makes the world of difference in baking.
* I think it would make a great homemade gift as well.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
5-6 good quality vanilla beans used per 1 cup of alcohol. 1 glass bottle with lid and good seal or a canning jar size depends on how much you want to make 1 bottle alcohol preferably vodka but can use bourbon, rum, or brandy
1. Use a knife to split the bean in half, leave about ½ inch at each end intact.
2. Put your vanilla beans in your glass bottle or canning jar and cover with vodka. Smaller batches might have to fold your vanilla beans in half. Always make sure the vanilla beans are submerged in alcohol.
3. Close the jar or bottle and store in a cool, dry place for 8 weeks. Give the bottle a shake once or twice every week or so. As you use the vanilla, simply add in more liquor to replace what you have used. If you feel you need to, then simply replace the vanilla beans to strengthen the flavor of your extract again. Usually I switch them out after about 6 months if i'm baking a lot...if not, they last a long time.