Whole vanilla beans have a much more complex, deeper vanilla flavor than extract and work very well in custard or a rice pudding. The beans can be used twice; after the last use, place them in a jar of sugar for a mild and delicious vanilla sugar.
Vanilla extract, which is a staple for your cupboard, is used in many recipes for baked goods. When purchasing vanilla extract, the most important thing to remember is to make sure the label says "pure," not "imitation."
Vanilla Extract How-To
Vanilla extract is also easy to make. It's a very simple project and makes a great gift. To make vanilla extract, deposit two split vanilla beans in a glass bottle or jar. Add a cup of unflavored vodka. Cap and store in a dark, cool place. Shake the bottle gently every couple weeks. After about two months, you'll have your very own homemade vanilla extract.