Cooking with real vanilla beans is a beautiful thing; I love the flecks of vanilla flavor and scraping the concentrated vanilla seeds out of the fragrant beans. But after paying up for the real things, the last thing I want to do is throw away the scraped-out pod. Good news — there are plenty of uses for these spent beans, which still contain tons of great vanilla flavor.
- Vanilla sugar - Stash spent vanilla beans in a canister of sugar to give it a subtle vanilla flavor. The vanilla sugar is ideal for sprinkling over tart fruits, in baked goods, and in coffee and tea.
- Homemade vanilla extract - Yep, that's right, it's as easy as soaking spent vanilla beans in vodka or even bourbon. Keep adding beans to the bottle as you use them, and you'll have great vanilla flavor after a few months.
- Vanilla powder - Let the pods dry and grind in a spice grinder (or coffee bean grinder) until they reach a powder consistency. Use this to boost vanilla flavor in baked goods.
- Vanilla syrup - Add a vanilla boost to simple syrup by simmering sugar and water with spent beans. Keep syrup in the refrigerator and add to iced tea, iced coffee or drizzle over fresh fruit.
- Super charge vanilla extract - Add spent vanilla beans to store-bought extract to intensify the flavor.
How to Use a Vanilla Bean
Check out our guide on getting the most from your vanilla beans:
(Image credits: Leela Cyd; Dana Velden)