I had a couple vanilla beans sitting in my cupboard. Though fancy recipes often call for whole vanilla beans, it just seems like such a waste to use a vanilla bean once and then toss it. My friend told me how easy it was to make your own extract, and cheaper than buying, so I thought I would try it. Basically, you sterilize a jar and fill it with vodka (or rum if you want that kind of taste in your baking) and then for every couple ounces I think, you use one bean. Here I have a baby food jar with two little vanilla guys. Now I wait..... 2 months.
For one, imitation extract comes from the byproducts of the paper industry. And at one time, 60% of the world's imitation extract came from Ontario, where there is such a big pulp and paper industry. Also, vanillin is not found solely in the vanilla bean (which is from a type of orchid), it is a chemical compound that can be made artificially (ie; from wood) and can occur naturally in things like wine if they have been in certain types of wood under the right conditions (Yellow Tail Shiraz, anyone?)
Update- The homemade vanilla extract was DELISH