Some vanilla extract recipes call for rum or brandy, but Rachael Narins and Suzanne Griswold prefer vodka because the neutral spirit lets the vanilla flavor shine through. Their bean of choice is Mexican. "It's more local for us," says Narins. "It also has a spicy, robust flavor that's great in extract." Video: Watch how to make homemade vanilla extractPlus: F&W's Dessert Cooking Guide
Put the vanilla beans in a tall bottle or jar and cover with the vodka. Add up to 1/2 cup more vodka to completely submerge the vanilla beans. Close the bottle or jar and let stand in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks before using. The extract is done when it's dark and fragrant.