Repurpose Leftover Vanilla Pods In These 6 Creative Ways
Image Credit: Unsplash

The scent of vanilla beans are almost ethereal and other-worldly; they’re indispensable in recipes that demand the sweet flavour of vanilla to accentuate stronger flavours like chocolate, fruit or coffee. Whether you’re someone who cooks with vanilla pods frequently or not, it is a known fact that they can be very expensive and hard to source at times. A good whiff of vanilla changes the way your food tastes and makes desserts like cakes, panna cotta and even infusions for liqueurs.

A good quality vanilla bean is plump and reasonably bendable and feel sticky when split open, to touch. The seeds inside the pod are a tiny, dark brown colour which speckle anything that they have been added to, bringing an earthy flavour that no vanilla essence or dry pod can compensate. While most recipes celebrate the beans and use them widely across dishes, the pods are underrated and hold a lot of flavour in them as well. In order to stretch the shelf-life of your expensive but beautiful vanilla bean pods, here’s six ways you can continue to utilise them in your kitchen.

Vanilla Sugar & Salt

Image Credits: Native Vanilla

One of the most common ways to use up leftover pods, you can dry them and stick them into your jar of sugar or salt, which can later be used for various purposes; right from being added to a glass of milk, or cookie batter and even rimming the tip of your cocktail glass for a margarita, vanilla salt and sugar are a great shortcut to add extra flavour to your food, without making too much of an effort. Allowing the pods to sit in your salt or sugar jar for a minimum of 10 days is necessary before you can taste the flavour in them. Shake the jar vigorously once every few days to make sure that the flavour is dispersed throughout.

Poaching Fruit

Using vanilla pods to pierce through the surface of fruit before poaching them will allow the flesh to absorb some of the vanilla flavour, as it poaches in the liquid. Skewer the fruit with a vanilla pod or two in order to get the most flavour. Fruits like peaches, guava or pineapple, that are firm to touch, work well for this technique.

Homemade Extract

Slitting the beans lengthwise and steeping them in a cup of vodka, to store in a cool, dark place for a few days gives the most fragrant and delicious smelling vanilla extract that you could find yourselves with. If you’ve managed to use up the seeds from a vanilla pod, continue to collect and air dry them and keep adding them to your vodka to get a more concentrated vanilla flavour.

Also Read: 

Why Vanilla Is The Most Underrated Spice

Flavoured Coffee & Tea

While using vanilla sugar should be perfectly fine to add a whiff of vanilla to your beverage of choice, using the pod while brewing your tea or coffee and allowing it to cool down in the liquid before you pour yourself a cup, is the best way to enjoy your daily cuppa, with a twist.

Vanilla Oil

Using a light, neutral oil and heating it up on a slow flame, with a vanilla pod or two thrown in, can act as an agent for aroma therapy as well as to use for dressings, marinades and even bakes. Allow the vanilla to remain in the oil for as long as it is in use to let the flavour seep into the oil, long after it has been taken off of the heat.

Bath Salts

Although not an edible prospect but creative nonetheless, chopping up vanilla pods and adding them to Epsom salts with a splash of vanilla extract, is a stress-buster on days when nothing but a warm, slow bath would do. The aroma of a vanilla bath salt is calming and rejuvenating for all your senses and leaves you feeling fresh.