Do you make your own vanilla extract? I do, too. Have some brewing right now. (This is how I made it.)
Making vanilla extract is easy, cost effective, and I know for sure what's in it. Even though I let the vanilla steep for weeks, even months, the used bean pods are still so fragrant when I remove them from the extract. I hate to even throw those "scraps" away!
So I don't. I put them to work for me again.
I'm sure a lot of you have heard of putting spent vanilla bean pods in sugar. Sounds like a good idea, though I've never tried it. I thought about it, but then decided to take a different route. Instead, I made vanilla syrup.
It was so simple. As in, simple syrup. Gather equal parts of water and sugar. (I used a cup of each.) Mix them together in a pot on the stove. Throw in your spent vanilla bean pods. Bring it all to a boil, and let it roll until the sugar is dissolved. It won't take long. Remove from heat, and let it all steep for a while. I basically just let mine cool completely. Maybe an hour.
Remove bean pods from your newly made vanilla syrup. (I guess you can dispose of them now, unless you have a way to use them further.) Store syrup in a jar in the fridge. Not sure how long it will last; been using mine for weeks.
My favorite way to use the vanilla syrup is over fruit. Oh, is it good. Makes humble fruit taste delectable. I usually spoon it over sliced strawberries. (And maybe, if I have it, add a dollop or two of whipped cream.) Just the other day, I
poured lightly drizzled some sweet vanilla syrup over a bowl full of blueberries and diced apple. Mmmm…I could drool right now.
I have also used it in place of vanilla extract. I'm sort of "in between" brews right now. My new batch could be used, but it would be better if I waited. The vanilla syrup worked great. Certainly not as strong as the real stuff, but was just fine in a pinch.
Let me share this with you, too. This is an image of the underside of the lid I use to cap the jar of vanilla syrup. I usually give the jar a shake before drizzling or taking a teaspoon. Can you see all the vanilla? I was really surprised at how much still came out after those beans had been steeping for months, making extract. So glad I didn't waste it!
Do you extend the life of your "spent" vanilla beans? How so? I'd love to hear your ideas and experiences.
From my mountaintop to yours!