The secret ingredient you should be using in your French toast

We've all woken up, put on our robes, and wandered to the kitchen to make something for a weekend brunch. We look in the fridge and spot milk, eggs, and bread. A brilliant vision of French toast emerges in your mind's eye, and you think to yourself, "The best French toast ever made is about to be crafted." But after diligently whipping up what you had planned to be great, you are left wanting more. We've all been there, but luckily there's a cure for mediocre French toast and it's surprisingly simple.

It's vanilla! Vanilla adds a rich taste to almost all sweet recipes. Think of it like the salt in savory meals — it enhances all the flavor elements in whatever dish it gets added to. Adding vanilla to your French toast recipe takes a fairly basic and bland breakfast and turns it totally amazing with just one little drop (via The Kitchn). 

Vanilla is the secret ingredient to better French toast

The formula is easy: First, you need a bread that you particularly enjoy. Then all that's left is the eggs to coat and crisp the outside of the bread, milk to add some creaminess, cinnamon to add the flavor we are all familiar with, and everyone's new favorite french toast ingredient... vanilla. Don't forget the butter on top of the finished product and in the pan (via The Recipe Critic). 

At this point it might make sense to mention that, although it's expensive, pure vanilla extract is always the best option. Imitation vanilla often has some pretty gnarly ingredients like coal tar, wood pulp, and even secretions from the beaver's castor glands, which unfortunately, are located at its bum. These can all be components of vanillin, the chemical that gives artificial vanilla it's flavor (via Extra Crispy).

Not all vanilla is the same

Additionally, there is a reason real vanilla is so expensive. The beans are extremely difficult to grow. It can take up to four years for a vanilla vine to reach maturity and once it is mature, the vanilla flowers only bloom for one day of the entire year, which means in order for the vine to produce it must be pollinated during that one day (via Business Insider). Beyond that, in the areas where most vanilla is grown there aren't bugs or birds that are capable of pollinating the plant. 80 percent of vanilla is grown in Madagascar and all of it has to be pollinated by hand on the single day of the year it's blooming. If the weather shifts for the worst, the farmer is out of luck. Furthermore, because vanilla is worth more by weight than silver, it is subject to theft. After undergoing loads of labor-intensive and drawn out work to produce a single harvest, farmers often get their crops stolen. When you take all of that into consideration, $20 for a bottle of the real deal doesn't seem so expensive.

Next time you want to impress your family? Use vanilla as your secret French toast ingredient — just make sure it's the real stuff.