Cheatin' Wheat Gluten Free Baking Blog

Eight Ways to Use a Vanilla Bean

Whoever said vanilla is boring "don't know beans" about this bean (pod actually). Vanilla is far from bland. In fact, it is one of the most complex flavors and aromas used in baking. There are earthy, spicy, musky, floral notes that are truly sense - sational. Many people do not know how complex the vanilla bean is because they never splurge and buy one. Instead, cupboards everywhere have cheap, imitation vanilla extract that smell more like a candle than the real thing. If you are currently using a high quality vanilla extract, I applaud you and now encourage you to also try using whole vanilla beans.

Since vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, it is a shame to throw out the pod after scraping the seeds from inside. There are myriad other uses for it so when that precious vanilla pod comes your way, it's best to use every bit!

vanilla bean pods in sugar1. Vanilla Sugar
Add the split, de-seeded pod to your granulated white sugar. The pod can remain in the sugar indefinitely and all the while, it will slowly perfume and flavor the whole bag.  

grinding dried vanilla bean pods2. Vanilla Powder
Let the leftover pods dry thoroughly and then use a spice grinder to turn the husk into powder. You can add this powder to any recipe to boost the vanilla flavor or stir it into your white sugar. I also like to sprinkle a little of this powder in my ground coffee before brewing - the aroma is amazing!

vanilla flavored liquors3. Vanilla Liquor
Add the pod to your favorite bottle of liquor and make your cocktails a little extra special. It does not have to sit long before you notice the hint of vanilla flavor. 

vanilla salt4. Vanilla Salt
It sounds strange I know, but trust me. I keep a little jar of vanilla salt around just for my mashed potatoes or potato gratin. Vanilla, duh, is not sweet on its own and it adds a special musky note to cream based dishes. I also like to sprinkle it on my homemade caramels and chocolate truffles.

vanilla simple syrup5. Vanilla Syrup
Simple syrup is a staple in my house, mostly as part of a well-stocked bar. Just bring equal parts sugar and water to a boil. Let cool and store in the fridge. By adding the leftover vanilla pod, that simple syrup becomes vanilla syrup and is a great addition to cocktails, iced tea, homemade hot chocolate and soda water. 

homemade, gluten free vanilla extract6. Vanilla Extract
Make your own gluten free vanilla extract by adding the pod to a bottle of alcohol such as vodka or rum. Since the pod has lost some of its punch, one will not be sufficient to make the resulting vanilla flavor strong enough. Just continue to add your spent pods and check the liquid in about 6 months. 

coffee beans scented with vanilla bean pods7. Vanilla Coffee
As I mentioned before, you can add your vanilla powder to a batch of coffee as you brew or you can stick the whole pod in the bag and let it slowly perfume all the beans.

commercial vanilla extracts8. Boost Store Bought Extract
This is as easy as it sounds. Add the vanilla pod to your existing bottle of vanilla extract to boost the flavor, color and aroma.


love these ideas! thanks for the tips