Vanilla: One of the most loved flavors and perhaps the most artificially (and poorly) imitated. Real vanilla is also rather expensive.
Making your own vanilla is easy and much less expensive than $2.50 per ounce that vanilla costs in the store.
(At that price, you can hardly afford to use enough to truly appreciate this amazing delicacy.)
Trust me, your culinary life won't be the same once you start to make your own.
In the last 5 years, the price of vanilla beans has shot up by over 10 times... so they are expensive right now. A great time to make your own extract and save some money. That initial purchase might be a bit of a sticker shock, but you won't regret it...
There are two grades of vanilla beans. The ones you think of are Grade A, the more expensive version that are great for making a fancy dessert.
You can use those beans for making extract, but what you really want are 'extract grade' beans (Grade B)
Grade B beans are more dried up and aren't as pretty as Grade A... but their vanilla flavor is more concentrated as a result. So they make better extract with less beans.
I haven't bought vanilla beans for over two years and I guess the price has just shot up... I looked a bit on Amazon, where you could buy a smaller package, but the prices are just out of this world now.
in 2014, I bought 1lb of organic extract beans for $80. They just last forever... now that same package is almost $200.
I'd recommend buying 1/4 lb of beans to start off and then when the prices come back down, stock up and get a full pound. At the time of posting, the price was around $60. So for the price of 5 little pre-made jars, you can make a nearly unlimited supply.
Here is the website where we ordered ours in the past.