Monday, March 26, 2012


To use a vanilla bean, take a sharp knife – and you’re after all these little tiny seeds that are inside of it. I don’t think anybody but me has called that caviar, but that’s how valuable they are to a baker. And if you take the tip of your knife and run it this way, that is pure vanilla. And if you’ve ever eaten a custard or an ice cream that had all those little tiny black flecks in it that’s where they come from.

Now that’s the good stuff, use that when you’re cooking, but don’t throw the pod away. Once you’ve harvested the caviar, because this still has 100,000 uses. For example, dry it off, throw it in a container of sugar, and you’ll have vanilla sugar. You can let these sit there for a couple of weeks and the scent of the vanilla is already in the sugar. The scent is unbelievable – to die for. And the cool thing is you can keep adding sugar as you use it up, and it’ll continue to develop the flavor for a long time. I think I’ve changed this one out probably three times and it still has got a tremendous amount of flavor.

Now if you really love to bake, and you really want to play, extracts and whole beans are not the only way you can do it. This is ground vanilla bean, and what this has done, a manufacturer has taken an entire vanilla pod, probably after they have been used for extract, they’ve allowed it to dry and then they have ground it up. And you can use this in a custard, or in a cake or in ice cream, anywhere you would use real vanilla, and it’s probably – well – I’ve used it in a one to one ratio – a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of the ground vanilla bean. Really great flavor and the price is awesome -  a fraction of a lot of the great vanilla extracts.

Now this one you don’t find often, outside of commercial bakeries, but this one is – I’ll try to pour this left handed so y’all can see. This one is a vanilla paste. And it’s the same thing. It’s ground vanilla – there we go. See how it’s almost like syrup? It’s been sweetened, usually with a corn syrup of some kind. So you can only use this in a sweet application, the corn syrup doesn’t work really well if you’re making a savory vanilla sauce for a pork loin. But if you’re making cookies, and if you’re making cakes, you can certainly use vanilla paste.

Ok – so that’s it. Pretty much what you need to know about vanilla. You need to go try some of these!