tip: vanilla sugar

vanilla sugar
Instead of buying ready-made vanilla sugar, make your own. It is very simple. Often this is sold with a premium markup. Many of the supermarkets sell their own brand vanilla sugar, at about 4 quid for 300g. For that price, you can make your own. And since vanilla pods stay fragrant for years, this is the kitchen tip that keeps on giving!  

Vanilla sugar is often used in European cooking, particularly German and Scandanavian. It is perfect in cakes, pies, icecream or custard. In fact most things that you would normally put sugar into. It is great in coffee and fabulous in hot chocolate but whatever you do, not in tea. (Oh lord, you are not one of those people who puts sugar in their tea, are you?)

Skill level: Easy

golden caster sugar
1-2 vanilla beans, split 

  1. Fill an airtight container with caster sugar (I use golden caster sugar).
  2. Split 1 or 2 vanilla pods down the middle and open out. Although some recipes for vanilla sugar recommend scraping out the seeds into the sugar, I won't. Just add the split bean(s) to the sugar.
  3. I like to use a glass clip top preserving jar, such as Kilner or Le Parfait because you can see the bean nestling in the sugar, but you could just use a plastic container.
  4. After about a week or 2, the beans will have infused the sugar with their wonderful aroma and flavour.
  5. When the sugar is used up, add more and start the process again. The pods will give flavour for at least a year. (I have one that's been going for about 3 years all told!)

  • You can even use a "used" vanilla pod here. If, say you had used a pod to infuse milk to make a custard. Instead of throwing it away, fish it out of the hot milk and rinse under a cold tap. Leave to dry and then use as above. It won't be as powerful as a fresh pod, but it will still have months of flavour left in it.


Anonymous said...

where would one acquire a vanilla pod? Can you grow your own?

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

I don't know where you are based, but most UK supermarkets will sell vanilla pods. Barts is a good Fairtrade brand.

You definitely can't grow your own - vanilla. Vanilla is a type of orchid and it has to be pollinated either by a specific type of bee (in South America) or by hand. Can't be done in your back garden, unless you are living in Madagascar!