Quick Recipes and Easy

A Few Tips and Tricks for Using Vanilla Beans

If you watch any of the cooking shows on the Food Network, you’ve
probably seen chefs on these shows scraping a vanilla bean to use in
some fanciful dish. The process of scraping the bean looks so simple
when they do it. They take a very sharp knife and slit the bean
lengthwise, then scrape out the tiny seeds from the pod. These “seeds”
stick together (like a paste since they’re moist and clingy) as the knife is run through the pod.

If you’ve tried this at home, only to find it isn’t quite so simple to slit the pod
lengthwise because it’s hard and leathery, try this trick. Soften the pod
by steaming it for 1 to 2 minutes in a steamer or in a sieve over boiling
water, then cool it slightly. It will be much simpler to slit. Also, when
scraping out the seeds, do this over a sheet of parchment paper or
waxed paper. Otherwise you will lose some of the precious seeds
because they’ll cling to your hands or even get under your fingernails as
you try to pick them up.

Vanilla beans are expensive. Once you’ve scraped out the beans, don’t
throw out that precious pod! Use it to make tasty vanilla sugar for
your coffee, or to sprinkle on your cereal.

To make vanilla sugar, you’ll need a clean empty jar with a tight fitting
lid. Place the scraped vanilla pod into the jar and cover it with granulated
sugar, then place the lid on the jar. Place the jar out of direct sunlight and
let it set for several weeks until the vanilla pod flavors all the sugar. As
you use some vanilla sugar from the jar, top off the jar with more
granulated sugar.

Follow these simple tips and tricks and soon you’ll be using vanilla
beans as expertly as any of those TV chefs!

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer and owner of the Three Angels
Gourmet Co. which offers a unique line of “heavenly gourmet mixes” for
sale at threeangelsgourmet.com threeangelsgourmet.com and through gourmet food
stores and gift shops across the United States. She offers daily food tips
at threeangelsgourmet.blogspot.com threeangelsgourmet.blogspot.com

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