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3 Ways Vanilla Can Be Added To Your Next Recipe

Slofoodgroup Team June 27, 2019

Different ways to infuse vanilla flavor into a recipe

If you are buying vanilla beans in bulk, it's likely for a wonderful baking project you have up your sleeve. Ground vanilla beans are also capable of infusing some of the most wonderful tasting flavors on the planet into recipes, though. As is extract and paste. 

In addition to tasting incredible, research suggests vanilla beans have a variety of potential health benefits, especially if purchased organic (around 70% of American consumers purchase at least some organic food each month).

Beyond flavor, there are other reasons to use vanilla in your next recipe!

Some of the health benefits of vanilla include hair care, weight loss, increased heart health, and there is even some evidence that vanilla can help with cancer prevention due to its strong antioxidant properties. No matter the reason, we are just glad it tastes so darned good!

You might have found yourself wondering from time to time what the difference is between getting vanilla beans in bulk for baking and cooking rather than buying vanilla extract or even vanilla paste. That is a good question. Here are some of the key differences, and some of the best reasons to buy vanilla beans in bulk:

What Is Vanilla Extract Anyway? Let's start by talking about what vanilla extract actually is. If you are purchasing pure vanilla extract, you have probably wondered how it is made. They obviously aren't just squeezing a vanilla bean like you would a lemon. Vanilla beans are steeped in alcohol and water. This creates a rich, complex flavorful liquid that is dark brown in color. Pure vanilla extract is the only way to go if you are looking for vanilla extract rather than buying vanilla beans in bulk. One of the main reasons people use extract is that it is so easy to use in baking projects. Additionally, most recipes call for vanilla extract, so using vanilla bean doesn't even cross most people's minds.

Using Vanilla Beans: In reality, however, using vanilla beans is a valid option for almost any recipe, and often enhances the flavor in a way that is just incredible. Vanilla beans offer a stronger, more intense vanilla flavor, without any of the bitter alcohol after taste. While vanilla beans are generally a bit more expensive than buying an extract, experienced bakers and chefs will testify that it is well worth the cost.

When it comes to conversion, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract is equal to a two-inch piece of vanilla bean. In other words, a single vanilla bean will offer the equivalent of 3 teaspoons of extract for baking purposes.

When using vanilla beans, cut the end of the pod and split it down the middle lengthwise (use a sharp knife for this). Carefully scrape out the seeds from the top down. The seed should appear as little brown speckles and have an intense flavor. These can be used to enhance the flavor of any sweet or savory dish, ice cream, cake, or another dessert. Once a bean pod has been scraped, save the pod. It can be placed in a container of sugar or infused in a spirit of choice.

What About Vanilla Paste? Vanilla bean paste is another option for baking and cooking. The paste has a rich, thick consistency and is a blend of the seeds scraped out of a vanilla pod and vanilla extract. If pods are just a little too much work for your liking, vanilla paste is a great alternative that is just a bit tastier than vanilla extract by itself. It still gives the classic, rich flavor of a vanilla bean without the work of cutting and scraping the seeds. However vanilla bean paste isn't all that common in stores, even organic grocery stores. Here's a DIY vanilla bean paste recipe using sugar-free vegetable glycerine.  It can easily be made in bulk to use in all your baking projects!

When it comes to making that perfect vanilla cake, flan, creme anglaise, or whatever dessert you are making, using real vanilla beans and vanilla bean flavors are the way to go. Introducing friends and family to the rich and savory taste of fresh vanilla is one easiest ways to impress them with your cooking. Additionally, you may find that you enjoy the process of using vanilla beans to have a truly "made from scratch" experience. Get ready to stalk up on vanilla beans in bulk because once you start, you will never stop.