Make the most of your vanilla pods.
After you’ve briefly simmered those slender, glossy black quills, potent with their sweet fragrance, in a custard or jam or compote, don’t let them go to waste!
There’s a huge amount of flavour left in a vanilla pod after one use, so you can be quite economical with them. Simply rinse, leave to dry on some kitchen paper and then either use them again in a recipe, or stick into a jar of golden caster sugar to make an effortless vanilla-scented sugar for baking.
Or you can go one step further and make your own vanilla extract. It couldn’t be easier: all you need is alcohol to steep the pods in.
They will infuse the alcohol with their potent aroma over a period of weeks or months, and you’ll end up with something exactly like that which you buy in the shops, but far cheaper in the long run.
This also makes a lovely gift, tied with a pretty ribbon and a hand-written label.
You will need the following:
Alcohol (vodka is the most neutral, but rum or bourbon will produce uniquely flavoured extracts)
Vanilla pods (around 5 per 200ml alcohol)
A clean glass bottle with lid
Using a sharp knife, split each vanilla pod down its length. Cut the pods in half widthways. It helps to cut the pods up a little, so there’s more surface area to infuse the alcohol, and it helps release the seeds.
Put the pieces inside the glass bottle, then pour over the alcohol to fill the bottle.
Put the lid on, and squirrel it away for a few weeks or months to infuse.
When you’ve used your extract, simply top up the bottle of pods with more alcohol and leave to infuse again.
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