Vanilla beans have a long history of use as flavoring for different foods. The bean is commonly sliced lengthwise and cooked in cream or custard. Vanilla extract is popular for use in everything from baked goods to ice cream. Vanilla beans require very little preparation to use, other than slicing down the seam of the bean. The seeds can be removed or left inside the bean for additional flavor.
Make Vanilla Cream
Slice three vanilla beans lengthwise down the seam of the pod.
Scrape the seeds from the inside of the pods using the backside of the knife and discard the seeds.
Heat, but do not boil, the pods in 1 pt. of cream for 5 minutes. Remove the cream from the heat and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
Remove the bean pods from the cream and refrigerate the cream. Use the cream in coffee, tea or recipes calling for vanilla cream.
Make Vanilla Extract
Split 12 vanilla bean pods at the seams.
Open a large bottle of vodka and remove the pour cap on the inside. Any brand of vodka is fine for this; expensive does not necessarily make better extract.
Insert the 12 split vanilla beans into the opening of the bottle.
Cap the bottle and store in a cool, dark place for four to eight weeks. After four weeks, you will have a mild vanilla extract, after eight weeks the flavor will be at its strongest.
Discard the beans and store the bottle on the pantry shelf. Re-bottle the extract into smaller jars or bottles with lids, if desired.
Place one or more whole vanilla beans in a shallow container with a tight fitting lid.
Cover the beans completely with sugar and place the lid on the container.
Allow the sugar to absorb the flavor of the beans for at least a week. Use the sugar to flavor coffee or in baked goods recipes calling for sugar.
About this Author
G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.