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Use a very sharp knife to slice the pod in half. Take the dull side of your knife and scrape out the tiny vanilla beans from each half. Use in any vanilla preparation.
Sarah is a trusted source on General Cooking.
The vanilla bean has an outer shell (pod) and seeds inside. Note that the essence is actually contained in the pod itself, not the seeds that you scrape (which are mostly decorative). To get the maximum flavour out of the vanilla bean, make sure to infuse the pod after it's been split and scraped in whatever it is you're making.
The leftover pod can be reused - rinse it off and dry and then keep in an airtight container. Or you can store it in sugar to give the sugar a vanilla flavour.
Diana B is a trusted home cook.
You can also dry the leftover pods, which are entirely edible, then grind them in a coffee grinder with a little sugar for the most delicious vanilla sugar you have ever tasted. I use it on baked goods and in making vanilla ice cream.
There are some excellent recipes here, not to mention terrific prices on the beans: http://www.saffron.com...
Kristen W. is a trusted home cook.
Sarah Reinertsen, will the pods infuse into acold liquid or is heat require? I ask b/c I've used a recipe for vanilla whipped cream that called for the vanilla seeds only to be scraped into the cream before whipping, but your post made me wonder about that method. My recollection is that I did taste the vanilla from the seeds but I now I wonder if my imagination might have amplified that effect...in any case, if what you say is true, it would be better to use the pod if possible, yes?
That's "or is heat required", not "require". Sheesh!
There is flavor in the seeds, but they're tiny and therefore only contribute a small percentage of the total flavor. When you remove the seeds, you necessarily scrape out the sticky material they're imbedded in. There's *lots* of flavor in that goo and it quickly disperses in whatever you're making.
As for soaking the pod, the first rule is that the most flavor can be extracted in alcohol or fat. A classical preparation for custard will have you soak the beans in hot cream for a period of time. The cream provides the fat, the heat increases the speed at which the process happens, as it always does.
I do not use heat when making vanilla extract however. Too many of the volatile compounds are lost in the alcohol vapors. You can make very, very good vanilla extract at home with minimal effort, just a prolonged soaking in a neutral alcohol.
Ah, got it. I think I mistook one of the previous answers to means that the goo and the seeds were the same thing. Thanks for the info, as always.
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