I love that Paula Deen!!! My daughter is addicted to the Food Network, and I love it too. Ms. Paula made homemade vanilla extract once, and I thought that would be the perfect Christmas gift for family, friends, co-workers, teachers, and neighbors...24 to be exact. After all, I don't know anyone who doesn't use or like vanilla. I was shocked to learn that the pure stuff is 100% alcohol. I didn't even realize that it is made with alcohol. When I looked at the grocery store the best I could find was 60% alcohol. No wonder people always bring vanilla home from Mexico...they make the good and pure stuff!
I ordered Madagascar vanilla beans and bottles from Amazon for a very good price. After sterilizing the bottles I split 5 beans in half length wise, removed the tips and bottoms, and place them in the bottle. Then vodka (you can use rum too) was added to completely fill the bottle. You give it a good shake everyday and in about 4 to 6 weeks (6 to be safe) you have vanilla extract. You can fill the bottle with more vodka when it is about half full and keep making more a couple of times as well. When you have finished the vanilla up, you can remove the beans, dry them off, and place them into your sugar jar where they continue to give off their lovely flavor. It really is the gift that keeps on giving...for a while at least.