Vanilla BeansVanilla beans are considered the most expensive agricultural commodity, after saffron. The vanilla bean is a fruit that is created as a result of pollinating orchid flowers and it’s so expensive because pollination has to be done by hand and on an individual basis. Nevertheless, vanilla with its exotic, luscious taste has crazed generations for centuries, creating a robust industry in the process. In cooking, vanilla beans are commonly replaced with vanilla extract, which is made by macerating vanilla beans in a mixture of water and alcohol. For me, vanilla extract is better suited for baking things like cookies whereas vanilla beans are better for custards or baking fluffy desserts like cakes or muffins, besides the black specs add an elegant touch!

Vanilla beans, which kind of look like little baby alien fingers can be a bit intimidating when you don’t know how to prep them correctly. The pulp, which looks like tiny black specs has all that magical flavor! Here we are going to learn how to get open and get the pulp correctly:

The beans have a flat side.

IMG_1179Lay the bean on its flat side on a cutting board and make sure it’s fully stretched. Insert a paring knife into the top of the bean and and start spitting it by half.

How to cut a vanilla bean

Once you are finished, you will have two sides of the beans! The goodness is in those tiny little specs! Vanilla seeds Use the paring knife to remove the pulp.

Vanilla beans

You can use the seeds in making delicious desserts like this persimmon creme brule.

Per Creme BruleeBut wait! Don’t throw the empty beans away! You can use them to naturally flavor sugar.. or create you own vanilla extract by macerating    the bean shells on a nice vodka!

How to make vanilla sugar