So this year, I decided to make my own. I mean, it can't possibly be that difficult. Basically, you put vanilla beans and cheap vodka in a jar and wait. Easy.
Well, let me tell you... Vanilla beans are not cheap, so I went the cheaper route and got grade B beans. This, I think, was my mistake. I chopped up the beans and added them to the vodka. I shook the jar every few days. It turned the right color and looked great. I though I was on the right track and was excited to try my new vanilla after about 5 weeks.
So I finally opened the jar and took a deep breath, excited about the delicious smell that I knew would fill my nose and make my mouth water. Well, I can't say it was bad, but it definitely wasn't that almost overpowering vanilla smell that I expected. It was a weak smell that lacked the rich aroma generally associated with vanilla.
I'm not one to give up easily, so I've started another batch with grade A beans. We'll see how it goes the second time around. This time, I used 5 beans and cut them open down the middle. These beans were MUCH softer than the lower grade ones, so it was pretty easy. I poured the vodka in and now I will wait, shaking the jar gently every time I open the cabinet.