Vanilla has an earthy quality. It’s ethereal. It’s exotic. It is indispensable in certain recipes and can be added to other recipes on a whim. It’s also costly. The good stuff is at least good quality, which you should use. Always. The vanilla extract should be pure. You should be able to smell the vanilla extract and either feel your head spinning or push you to rub a bit behind your ears. The beans…oh, the beans. Vanilla beans, the queens of the vanilla family, The ne plus super of flavouring.
Vanilla beans should be plump, flexible and easily manipulated. Dry beans will not give you the flavour you desire (and have paid for). The beans should feel soft and moist.
The inner pulp is the most prized part of the bean. However, the pod has a lot more flavour than the seeds.
These are five ways you can reuse vanilla bean pods that have been left over.
Vanilla Sugar & Salt
You can dry the beans and then bury them in a sugar container. You can dry the pods, then whirr them in your blender or food processor. You can also use the same technique to make Vanilla Salt. This flavouring is great for cookies. It can be used in and on top of all-chocolate cookies, such as chocolate chip, butterscotch or all-chocolate cookies. The pods can be placed in a salt cellar or jar with kosher salt. Let them rest for a few more weeks. The salt can also be used on the savoury side. Try it on sweet potatoes, lobster, shrimp, and roasted carrots. You can go crazy and whirl the pods with sea salt. Then, mix the salt with fleur de sel (or flake salt) to make a salty mixture. Vanilla sugar can be substituted for regular sugar in most recipes. It can be used to season margarita glasses with a sweet, unexpected flavour. Mix vanilla sugar in your coffee, or make sugar cookie dough balls before baking.
Give the sugar or salt a shake every few days to ensure that the vanilla flavour is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Don’t forget to add white sugar! The extra sweetness will be beneficial to coconut sugar, palm sugar, and brown sugar.
Poached and pierced fruits
Whether fresh or dried, Pods are great for poaching fruit. Run the pods through the fruit using a skewer. This will allow you to get the best flavour from the pods. Vanilla can be enjoyed with stone fruits, pears and prunes. Don’t forget the syrup! Depending on the spices you used, it may be a good idea to sweeten your tea with ice cream or to poach other fruit.
Vanilla extract can be made traditionally. First, you need to cut fresh beans into small pieces. Next, steep the beans in vodka. Each cup should contain 3-4 beans. Mix all ingredients in a glass container. Shake and store for several months. You can also do the same with pods or beans that have been soaked. Although you might not have enough beans to start with, you can add more beans. You can make the extract with Cognac for a richer, more unique flavour.
Flavoured Tea & Coffee
You can save the pods for vanilla coffee. You can also add one pod to your coffee beans and then grind them together. I prefer to make tea from the new pod. What is the best? Chai Tea with Vanilla; Honey, also.
Mary Dodd, my assistant, came up with this great idea. Mary Dodd, my assistant, chops vanilla beans and mixes them with Epsom salts. She then makes bath salts that are wonderfully aromatic, soothing, and great for any ill.
Beyond Good shared this idea with us. You can make vanilla oil by heating a neutral oil like vegetable, olive, or coconut oil in a saucepan. It doesn’t need to be hot, but it should get warm enough to aid infusion. In a heat-resistant glass mason container, place a vanilla pod that has been split into pieces. When the oil is warm, slowly pour it into the jar. Wait until the oil reaches room temperature before covering the jar. Allow it to sit for at least two days before using it in any recipe that calls for oil, such as dressings, marinades or brownies.