Extracting Vanilla Seeds and What to Do with the Pods

By Kristie | July 23rd, 2020

If you’re reading this, we hope you’re as excited as we are to unleash the incredible fragrance and flavor of your fresh vanilla pods. In this blog, we’re going to go over how to extract vanilla seeds and make the most of the pods. If you don’t have any vanilla pods yet, what are you waiting for? Check out this article for advice on how to select the best beans on the market. Once you’ve done that, come right back here to learn how to make the most out of them.

Okay. Now that you have the beans, it’s time to use them.

Step 1: Using a paring knife, split the bean lengthwise down the middle. Cut deep enough so that it can stay propped open, like a submarine sandwich.

Step 2: Scrape out the vanilla seeds with the dull side of the knife. Tip: Hold half the bean steady against the cutting board while you scrape, and repeat with the other half until you’re left with the empty pod. (Don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the sublime burst of fragrance from every opened pod.)

Step 3: Use the seeds immediately. One vanilla bean equals about 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract or one inch of vanilla bean for every teaspoon of extract. We’d recommend adding incrementally and taste-testing as you go, if possible. You can also go by the amount of vanilla seed speckling you see in your batter.

Step 4: Keep the leftover pods! They’re still full of flavor and fragrance. Below are some quick recipes on how to repurpose your scraped-out vanilla beans.

Credit 2020 Creative Commons user joyosity

Vanilla Sugar, Vanilla Salt, Vanilla Milk

When you buy vanilla beans from us, the glass tubes they come in provide a pretty tight seal and are perfect for infusing sugar and salt with vanilla. You can make homemade vanilla sugar by burying the spent pods in sugar (white, brown, raw, or otherwise) for at least a week in a cool, dark place. Some people prefer to leave it for at least 2 weeks, as the vanilla will have even more time to infuse. It’s up to you how many vanilla pods to use, but the average is about 1 bean for every two cups of sugar. You can even scrape some of the vanilla seeds into the sugar for an even more potent vanilla-infused spice.

Do the same with salt to get vanilla salt, and you’ll have the perfect thing to sprinkle over homemade brownies, cookies, pretzels, caramels, and hot cocoa. You can even use this infusion technique to make vanilla-infused milk... The possibilities are endless.

Credit 2020 Creative Commons user: mommyknows

Vanilla Extract

Making a proper extract only takes 2 ingredients, but it takes patience to produce the best vanilla extract. Get a bottle of vodka (quality doesn’t matter, as long as it’s at least 40% alcohol) and a handful of scraped-out vanilla pods — 4 to 5 for every cup of spirit (you can use less if you’re including the seeds). Put the pods in an airtight glass bottle and pour in the vodka. (Optional: use a funnel for neat pouring.) Make sure the pods are completely submerged before sealing.

Wait at least 6 months before using; the extract should be a deep amber color. The longer you wait, the more rich and concentrated the extract will be. As the water line goes down, top it off with more vodka so that the vanilla can continue to infuse. But if vodka isn’t your thing, you can find your sweet spot by making different extracts with bourbon, rum, or brandy.

You can even make a non-alcoholic extract by replacing the vodka for glycerin. Simply slice open your vanilla pods and place them in a jar before adding the glycerin. (For this version, it’s best to keep the seeds in since extracting with glycerin doesn’t happen as easily as with alcohol.) No worries, though — your extract should still be ready by the 6-month mark!

Vanilla Coffee or Tea

Yes, it's as delicious and aromatic as it sounds. Grind a pod of vanilla into your favorite coffee to create your own vanilla-infused coffee. Or you could add a scraped-out pod to your regular cup of morning joe. For vanilla tea, you could steep a couple pods with your favorite tea; we recommend earl grey, a fruit tea, or chai tea. To get even more out of your vanilla pods — scraped or unscraped — you could make a sweet vanilla syrup to add to your tea of choice.

Credit 2020 Creative Commons user mandarina94

Vanilla Bath Salts

We know that vanilla can nourish us with its comforting taste, but did you know that it can also serve as great aromatherapy to soothe our bodies from the outside? Vanilla has natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, so after the end of a long, tiring week (or day), there’s nothing like a vanilla-infused salt bath to get our aching bodies to feel alive again.

All you’ll need are your used vanilla pods and Epsom salt. Like with the vanilla salt, bury your used pods in the Epsom salt and let it infuse for at least a week. Shake the container every few days. When you’re ready for your bath, pluck out the vanilla beans, as you may be able to use them for another infusion. Feel free to experiment with adding other essential oils or even orange peels to the mix — your DIY bath salt concoction will smell even more heavenly!

We hope this list helped you scrape the most out of your vanilla pods and make the vanilla-infused creation of your dreams. Tag us on social media — links at the bottom of our website. We can’t wait to see what you create!

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