Vanilla is one of my all time favorite flavors. I love everything vanilla. Trying to cook with an alcohol free vanilla extract can be a challenge since the glycerin based extract is hard to find and pricey. But not any more!
Now, this (right now) is not super cheap but it is a tad bit cheaper and buying it already made. And it is easy. The only down side- you have to wait for it to "brew" and this takes 2-3 months.
About the vanilla beans- I got mine at World Market since they were the best price I could find. Right now, there is a vanilla bean shortage. Google to find the best price and for this, do not pay premium prices! You can get the lower grade beans (which means they are not necessarily great for baking because they are harder).
Alcohol Free Vanilla Extract
1 cup vegetable food grade glycerin (I used this one)
3-5 vanilla beans
Glass Jar with lid
Carefully split the beans lengthwise with a sharp knife, if you can, and scrape the seeds out. Put the seeds in the jar. (It is ok if you cannot split your bean). Put the pods in a small food processor and pulse 4-6 times to break up the seeds. Using a rubber spatula, scrap every last bit into the jar. Add the glycerin. Stir to blend. Cover and place in a dark, cool place. Shake or stir every few days and let the jar sit for 2-3 months.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a clean jar or bowl and pour the extract in. Using a rubber spatula, push the glycerin through the strainer until you have nothing left but the pod pieces. Keep in jar, sealed. Use just like any other vanilla extract.