After decanting the homebrew vanilla extract from those bottles, I added enough vodka to cover the spent beans, ran them through the blender, and drained the liquid:
It’s rather muddy and probably not worth keeping, but we’ll see what settles out:
The Good Stuff looked like this before it went into a dark corner of the Basement Laboratory Storage Warehouse:
It turns out you (well, I) cannot run vanilla extract through an ordinary coffee filter: it just doesn’t drain well at all. Cheesecloth didn’t seem worth the effort, so I combined all the clear liquid in a single jar, let it settle for a few days, then decanted it back into those three bottles again. The bottom of the rightmost bottle has a layer of what Breyers calls “real vanilla bean specks” in their ice cream.
In round numbers, $20 for half a pound of beans and $16 for a 1.75 l bottle of 80 proof vodka adds up to $36 for maybe 1.4 l of DIY vanilla extract = $26/l. Commercial vanilla extract runs about $72/l, so that’d be $100 in those bottles.
One could drive the DIY price down by processing more beans at a time, but this should keep us in vanilla for quite a while; that cup of hot cocoa in the afternoon smells really good now!