The Secret Use For Vanilla Pods You Never Thought Of

Growing vanilla bean pods is a ridiculously arduous process in the world's leading producer, Madagascar. It turns out, vanilla wasn't native there, but was instead introduced to the island, so it has to be pollinated by hand (via CBS News). That tidbit of information might help explain why buying really good quality vanilla is so expensive. However, it also means you shouldn't waste any part of the vanilla bean pod if you go to such lengths to use quality ingredients.

If a recipe calls for the seeds of a vanilla bean pod or two, then you might just scrape its contents out and toss the pod itself. But, there's actually an ingenious way to use the pod so you get more use (and vanilla bean flavor) for your dollar. You can use the seedless pod to infuse some other kitchen ingredients such as sugar, and it's as flavorful as it sounds (via Kevin and Amanda). 

Vanilla sugar is often used in baking, and is a common ingredient in cookies and cakes made in European countries like Germany, Poland, and Hungary. The sugar keeps its normal granular texture, but it takes on the aromatics of the vanilla bean pod, which means it helps pack more flavor into your baked goods (via Bob's Red Mill).

How to make vanilla sugar

Making vanilla sugar is so fast and easy that it's really a no-brainer. Kevin and Amanda suggest using about 2 cups of sugar per vanilla bean pod. All you have to do is toss the vanilla bean pod into an airtight container with the sugar, and it will infuse with time. The longer you let it sit, the more aromatic and flavorful the vanilla sugar will be. Shoot for at least a week though, even if you are feeling impatient to put your new and improved pantry staple to use.

Once the vanilla sugar has been infused for at least a week, just use it like you would normal granulated sugar. You can use it in a more traditional way such as in cakes and cookies, but it is also perfect for pancakes, waffles, muffins, and cupcakes. You might find it to be a great sweetener for coffee and tea, too.

So, give it a try and see how you like vanilla sugar in your recipes. It's an easy, fun, and delicious way to shake up your typical baked goods.