In the pantry I always have several bottles of vanilla in the making and one in use. I prefer rum as the base although there is a vanilla making contingent that prefers vodka. And our friends in the South, often uses bourbon.
Our ancestors, however, would have used either rum or bourbon because vodka was not widely available here until the 60's.
I encountered the recipe in a book I happened to order all the way back in the early 70's -- Mary Mason Campbell's Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook.
The recipe is easy -- for each six ounces of alcohol (your choice of rum, vodka or bourbon), cut one vanilla bean lengthwise, then cut in pieces with scissors and drop into the alcohol.
Cover tightly (a cork is great) and keep at least six months before using. The light rum turns dark -- like the store vanilla that we are used to.
Vanilla beans, too, can be cut into pieces and dropped in a jar of granulated sugar. Cover the jar for several weeks before using. Those cute canning jars make great containers for vanilla sugar. It's great to use as the sugar in whipped creams or frostings.
Once you taste homemade vanilla, you'll never go back. And you'll find the vanilla sugar a great addition to your pantry.