Please check out this great post from: ChefandSteward.com
I have shortened it a bit but you can read the entire post at the end-link.
How to make real vanilla extract in time for the holidays
Warning, this post contains alcohol.
Vanilla beans are easily available in top supermarkets but are very expensive and are not practical for every recipe. So here is how you make your own in time for the intense baking of December. It takes two months to make vanilla so if you start now, you will definitely be able to impress your guests with your desserts that reek of authentic vanilla and not the imitation stuff we find in the local supermarkets.
So here is a recipe for homemade real vanilla extract, which believe it or not is simpler and cheaper than you think.
Ingredients: 3 medium-fat vanilla beans and 1 cup rum (you may substitute with vodka), a sterilized airtight canning jar/ mason jar or if you are a re-cyclist like The Steward, an old jam/or honey jar.
Method: Sterilize jar and lid by pouring boiling water over them covering them and letting them sit in the purifying, scalding bath for about 10 minutes.
Holding the tip of the vanilla that has the rough nodule where it was attached to the vanilla orchid, use a sharp paring or fillet knife to slit the vanilla in half, leaving from about one inch from the end you are holding. (Pretend that you see my index and middle fingers holding down the end to the left. I was busy shooting with my left hand and cutting with my right).
Pour the measured alcohol into the jar and add slit beans, making sure to fully immerse them. Get a production label or a piece of tape and a pen and label the date of production. Place in a dark cabinet for two months, shaking the bottle every Monday (or any day you wish). The aim is to shake it up once per week. If you have to place it in a cupboard that is opened frequently, simply wrap the bottle in a kitchen towel to keep it dark.
*The Appleton Rum is the cheapest grade sold in Jamaica. Even so, it is leap years ahead of Bacardi (Cuban) or Mount Gay (Barbados) or Meyers, which no self-respecting Jamaican drinks. Appleton sells the vast majority of their rum in the local domestic Jamaican market because it is so good, that we consume most of it. You may also have a shot of Appleton Reserve 21 Year Old at Burj Al Arab’s Al Muntaha. It’s not cheap, but most things worth splurging on are not.