I made a large amount of homemade vanilla last week. I've made it before but in small quantities. Now, I've made a gallon and hope to have vanilla for a long time plus give some away in pretty bottles as gifts. Real vanilla extract is so much better than imitation and if you need another reason to not use imitation, read this link:http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/why-you-shouldnt-use-imitation-vanilla
She also has a recipe on her site for how to make the extract. It's super easy!
First you split the beans almost to the top like this....
I had an Ikea jar that was about 1/2 a gallon so I used 40 beans per jar.
Then you fill the jar with a 1.75 liter of Vodka.
Then you place the jars in a dark place like the back of a cabinet or pantry for about 6 months.
After six months, you strain the beans and put the vanilla in jars to use. It will keep indefinitely!