Since I bottled up my last batch of vanilla (read about it here) I was able to dehydrate my “used” vanilla beans and make a batch of vanilla sugar. I use vanilla sugar for baking and in my coffee (of course!) and to make gifts. More on that in future posts. But for now, let me show you how easy it is to make vanilla sugar.
Vanilla beans fresh out of the package are plump and moist and fragrant. ( Olive Nation is having a vanilla sale through August 3, check here. Save 15% with the code VAN15. ) After a few hours in the dehydrator, and it doesn’t take long, they are shriveled and crispy. That’s good, because my sugar has been lumpy enough with the humid weather lately. I don’t need to add more moisture.
I split my vanilla beans before using them to make vanilla extract, so they really do dehydrate in just a few hours. You can see in the photo how the fresh beans look plump and shiny. The split and dehydrated beans are dry and curled up. I divided my dehydrated vanilla beans between a couple of recycled tubs. Yes, black vanilla bean flecks do come off of the beans into the tub, which means the resulting vanilla sugar will have a few flecks, too. To me, that just proves it’s the real deal. Not a problem.
I covered the beans with sugar, snapped on the lids, and labeled the tubs with the contents and the date. Now they’re stashed in a dark spot in the pantry. I’ll pull them out around Thanksgiving to flavor coffee and cookies and to use for other projects.
And since I bottled up my last batch of vanilla I had to get another batch started. (Laura has wonderful instructions over at HeavenlyHomemakers.com.) But I wanted to show you a side-by-side comparison of what the just-started batch looks like compared to the batch I just bottled. What a difference a few months of steeping makes! And yes, I do love my half-gallon Ball canning jars. I really wanted to use one for the vanilla sugar but I have them all full of other things!
Do you think you might make some vanilla extract or vanilla sugar? What other “gourmet” items do you like to make for your kitchen?