Vanilla extract is used so often in baking, we consider it a staple. Vanilla beans, on the other hand, are expensive and more of a rarity. When we do use them, we want to make sure to wring every bit of flavor out of them to take advantage of what they have to offer. Many recipes require the seeds from the insides of the vanilla beans, and the bean pods can be re-purposed to make vanilla sugar, which can then be used in recipes where sugar and vanilla extract are listed ingredients.
Image: Peter Muka
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped of seeds (used for another recipe)
- Place sugar in an airtight container. Cut vanilla bean in half crosswise and bury in two different places in the vanilla. (More surface area means more flavor). Store for at least a week for vanilla flavor and aroma to permeate the sugar. Use the sugar in same measurements as you would regular granulated sugar.
- Vanilla sugar makes a great gift. Simply package in pretty and/or utilitarian jars; just make sure they are airtight.
- You can use a whole bean, seeds intact, but obviously this, then, becomes a luxurious recipe as opposed to a way to use up the pods. Your sugar will also have a more pronounced vanilla flavor. Simply scrape the seeds into the sugar, whisk well to disperse, tuck the bean in there and proceed as described.