Among the souvenirs I brought home from my vacation was this packet of vanilla beans that were grown on Maui. Vanilla Beans are the seed pod of an orchid (Vanilla Planifolia) whose flowers have to be pollinated by hand. The beans are then harvested by hand, and then cured for several months before they can be used for cooking and baking. No wonder vanilla beans are so expensive!
I have not used vanilla beans before so I decided to start with an easy project: Vanilla Sugar. So easy to make that I'm adding it to my to-do list for this year's Christmas gifts.
All you do is cut a vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and then open up the beans, and scrape out the seeds.
Then you put the bean pod pieces and seeds into any container that has a lid, add 2 cups of sugar, and shake!
Let the sugar and vanilla sit for a week or two, shaking periodically, and then enjoy! Sprinkle some on top of fresh fruit. Use as a substitute for regular sugar in your next batch of cookies. Add a spoonful (or two) to your morning cup of coffee, and maybe even add a dash of cinnamon. The possibilities are endless!