Vanilla Beans

Sugar and Bottle
With temperatures hitting the low 20’s the bees are tightly clustered and doing their best to keep warm. My way to stay warm is to turn on the oven and fill the house with the smell of baking goodies. This year I have discovered something which have greatly enhanced my baking, vanilla beans.

My local grocery store had a fancy spice bottle with one sad looking vanilla bean inside. They were asking roughly a week’s pay. I figured there had to be a cheaper way, so I turned to online shopping. I was very skeptical at first about purchasing beans online, however I decided to risk $20 for a quarter pound of Prime Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans. Amazon has lots of different sellers for Vanilla Beans , so search around for the best deal. When they arrived I cut open the package and was greeted with an unfamiliar but pleasant smell. The beans do not smell like a scented candle but have a much more complex smell and flavor. I saved a few to make ice cream and split the rest in half.

The first batch I used to made vanilla sugar. You simply cut the beans in quarters and put them into some sugar. After a day or two the sugar starts to smell wonderful. I found it added a nice flavor to coffee without any artificial “flavors”. It adds a nice touch to cookies. Fresh sugar can be added as you use the vanilla sugar.

With the second batch I made a batch of vanilla extract. I slit the bean up and then placed them into a small Vodka bottle. Every few days I would shake it and watch the seeds swirl around. Now two months later, I have a wonderful smelling and tasting bottle of vanilla extract. I use it right out of the bottle and the tiny speaks of seeds don’t seem to change the recipes at all.

Both these products would be wonderful for homemade gifts for any bored snowbound beekeeper.