V: Vanilla Beans
Are vanilla beans an herb? Most likely they’d probably fall under the ‘spices’ category. But I need a ‘V’ and I’m coming up blank. And, I love anything made with freshly crumbled vanilla beans…so there you go! Vanilla beans it is for today.
Here’s some tips about buying vanilla beans. How to Buy Vanilla and Vanilla FAQ’s, by David Lebovitz. He has so much information here about vanilla beans and vanilla extract, I’ll give you the link to check it out directly. I think you’d be happier seeing his whole post, rather than my brief summary. I have to admit that I didn’t know the differences between the different vanilla beans. I was just happy when I could find some that wouldn’t break the bank. And he’s right on the storage issue too, towards the end. Yes, the will mold in the refrigerator. I lost a whole 8-ounce package that way.
What about storing vanilla beans?
Vanilla beans should be moist, never brittle, when you buy them. To keep vanilla beans moist and plump, store them in airtight bags in a cool, dark place – not the refrigerator, since moisture can cause them to mold. Once used, you can rinse and pat dry vanilla beans, and store them in a jar of rum, vodka or whiskey. They can be re-use for infusing or poaching with fruit, as they still contain a lot of their precious flavor. Well-dried vanilla beans can be buried and stored in a container of sugar for a few weeks to make vanilla sugar, which can be used in place of regular sugar in things like whipped cream. Or they can be ground with flaky sea salt to make vanilla salt, which is nice sprinkled delicately over a chocolate tart or other dessert.
Speaking of vanilla sugar…Yum! Probably my favorite thing to make for holiday gifts. I’ve never tried the vanilla salt, but now my taste buds are curious. The Clever Carrot has great instructions and advice to make Vanilla Sugar.
And of course, you need a few delicious recipes to go along with the tips. Here’s a few delicious recipes from other sites.
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Cheesecake Bars: Get the recipe here, from Handle the Heat.
Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam: Get the recipe here, from Averie Cooks.
Pear Vanilla Bean Jam: Get the recipe here, from Mountain Mama Cooks.
Vanilla Bean Cream Pie: Get the recipe here, from A Southern Grace.
Bacon Almond Brittle with Vanilla Beans: Get the recipe here, from How Sweet it Is.