Vanilla extract is very simple to make but it takes a long time to finish. Some recipes say it will be ready in 8 weeks but I think the longer the better. I read some people wait 6 months to use it. You can decide on how long to wait but the minimum is 8 weeks.
How to Make Vanilla Extract
4 vanilla beans
1 cup vodka
glass jar w/ tight lid
1 Use a sharp knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end
2. Put vanilla beans in a glass jar (I used a canning jar) Pour vodka over till completely covered
3. Cover the jar and store in a dark, cool place for 8 weeks or longer. During the 8 weeks shake the bottle a little once in a while to spread the vanilla flavor.
After the 8 weeks you can put some in smaller glass containers. I bought some small dark amber glass jars to put them in.
Information on Vanilla
Of the 110 varieties of vanilla only three types are used commercially – Planifolia, Pompona and Tahitian.
Madagascar / Bourbon vanilla
Bourbon vanilla is the generic name for vanilla species planifolia. Originating in Mexico planifolia vanilla cuttings were taken in the 1800s and grown by the French in large plantations in Reunion then known as the Ile de Bourbon thus explaining the origins of it’s name. Bourbon vanilla has the familiar vanilla flavor we have come to know and love, such as that in ice cream, flavored desserts and drinks. Madagascar Bourbon is the most sought after bourbon vanilla bean and is considered the best. Madagascar has aromas of wood, oil, and leather with wide flat pods.
Vanilla is a gift of Mexico to the world. The Aztecs used vanilla: “tilxochitl” (black flower) to perfume a drink called “xocolatl” (chocolate), prepared with vanilla and cocoa for the first banquet offered to Hernan Cortes. When shown the cocoa grains and the black vanilla beans he was overwhelmed by the incredible perfume of the brown beans known as “xanath” (vanilla flower) by the Totonacs. Mexico is no longer the largest producer of vanilla beans due to a devastating freeze in the late 1950’s that destroyed most of the vanilla plants. Mexican vanilla beans are chocolate brown to black in color, their aroma is clean and delicate.
Tahitian vanilla is the generic name for the vanilla species tahitensis. This variety originates from plant stock taken to Tahiti, which probably mutated in the wild. Now regarded as a different species, it’s appearance and flavor is considerably different to planifolia vanilla. Tahitian vanilla is earthly and fruity, with less natural vanillin than planifolia.
Pompona Vanilla or Antilles Vanilla
Pompona vanilla is grown in the Antilles and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. The vanilla pods are considered of lower quality than either planifolia or tahitian.
source of vanilla information: arizonavanilla.com