Vanilla beans are fun to use for a variety of projects. They are a wonderful addition to foods as well as natural body care products.
Simply cut the vanilla beans open lengthwise and scrape out the seeds inside. The seeds can be used in all manner of baked goods, ice cream, and other delectable desserts.
I was quite surprised the first time I saw a vanilla bean. I seemed so leathery and strange! I'm not sure what thoughts they'd would look like, but it wasn't that!
Good quality vanilla beans won't be dried out and even though they may appear somewhat leathery and slightly wrinkled, they should be plump and moist. ( I buy vanilla beans from Olive Nation.)
The seeds inside a vanilla bean are very fine (and there are a ton of them!). If you've never seen inside a vanilla bean, the seeds look like this:
If you are uncertain how to get the seeds out of a vanilla bean, watch this video:
Here are a few of my favorite ways to use vanilla beans:
Use Vanilla Bean Seeds Instead of Vanilla Extract in Baking
Generally 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract = the seeds from one vanilla bean.
Vanilla bean seeds add an excellent flavor to baked goods and I love the speckled look of them in the finished dish.
They can be added to cakes, scones, cookies, French toast, oatmeal, syrups, sauces, and more (really, whatever your heart desires!).
Vanilla Beans 50 beans
Make Vanilla Extract
Homemade vanilla extract is simple to make and turns out to be less expensive than store-bought vanilla (REAL vanilla extract, not imitation).
To make vanilla extract, cut vanilla beans in half, lengthwise, stopping before you reach the top, so there is a small part left attached. Place beans in a large jar and fill with vodka. Close tightly with a lid and leave to sit for 4 to 6 months.
There are many different suggestions about how many vanilla beans to use, just take a quick trip on google and you'll see what I mean. I personally like a very strong vanilla (so I can actually useless in recipes, if I choose). I use about 40 beans to one large (1.75 liters or 59 ounces) of vodka.
Many use the ratio of 6 or 7 vanilla beans to one cup of vodka (if you want to make less).
Use in Sugar Scrubs
Vanilla beans seeds make a great addition to body scrubs. They add a gentle exfoliation as well as a delightful scent.
Make Vanilla Sugar
Vanilla sugar gives a fun twist to regular old white sugar. I'm not a fan of sugar really. But, a sweet treat, like vanilla sugar is a fun indulgence. It's very easy to prepare and makes a wonderful gift.
Instead of white sugar, you could make it with coconut sugar, sucanat or rapadura for a more real food approach.
Quick Vanilla Sugar
Scrape out the seeds and add to one cup of sugar. Stir to combine and place into a clear jar. Let sit for a day or two.
Infused Vanilla Sugar
This process take a bit longer, but is still easy, plus it makes good use of vanilla beans that have been used for other purposes.
Add one or two vanilla beans that have been scraped and used for another purpose (like in a recipe or scrub) to a cup of sugar. Seal tightly and let sit for 1 to 2 weeks.
Use as you would regular sugar in baking or add to coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
Vanilla Beans from Olive Nation are excellent quality, plus they often have them on sale, which is a bonus!