A few years ago, I spotted an article in a Martha Stewart magazine with a surprisingly simple tutorial on making your own vanilla extract. You split 3 vanilla beans, drop them in 1 cup of vodka (unflavored here, of course), and wait 3 months. We have discovered that the longer you let the extract steep, the more intense the flavor. Voila! Homemade vanilla extract! But I wondered if we were really saving any money. Here's the break down:
The price of pure vanilla extract can vary widely. I've priced it at anywhere from $0.81 to $3.25 a fluid ounce, with an average cost of $0.88 a fl. oz. Of course, this is one area where I firmly believe you get what you pay for. We spent a total of $33.00 for vanilla beans and vodka. I purchased Madagascar beans this time, which were a bit more than the mexican beans we used last time. We'll have to wait and see if the flavor is noticeably different. So for our $33.00 we got 50 fl. oz. of extract (or will have come October); that's $0.66 a fl. oz. I'd say that's a great deal, considering I know exactly what's in it (and NOT in it). At that price, and with 50 fl. oz. hanging around, I feel like I can afford to be extravagant in my baking. Well worth it.