Have you started gathering gift ideas for the holidays? I like to gift vanilla to my cooking friends and now is the time to start a batch. Here is my recipe below.

Split seven to eight good quality vanilla beans lengthwise down the center to expose the seeds, keeping the ends of the beans intact. Place beans in 750ml of high-quality vodka, rum or brandy. Store extract in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard or closet for at least four weeks. Shake the bottle several times a week.
To use, either remove four of the beans for another purpose (you can add them with a fresh bean to make more extract, or you can use them for cooking), or let all the beans remain in the bottle, and periodically, add more alcohol to keep the bottle replenished. Eventually the beans will lose their strength but they should contain flavor for many months.
* I use vodka and have had great results. I also leave the vanilla beans in the extract and add more alcohol when I have used about ¼ of the extract. The batch I brewed last year is still going strong and I have not had to remove the old beans and add new ones yet.
* When I gift the vanilla, I pour the extract into a large measuring cup and divide into smaller containers. Then I split the beans up between the smaller containers and label so they know they can add alcohol when they have used about 1/4th of the extract and keep the bottle going.

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