I don’t know if it’s the rain or the wind or the fact that Pastry shop is back, but I recently struggled with the urge to cook. This led me to do exactly a lot of chip cookies, Yes, but it is mostly translated in me reading about the pastry. Most of these writings were by Stella “The Bravetart ” Parks, by Serious Eats.
It is impossible to read a Parks article and not come away with a new understanding of not only How? ‘Or’ What do something, but Why You do it in this way. The same can be said of his tweets over the years, like this one:
Mixing an exhausted vanilla bean in a sugar jar is an often-suggested old ‘hack’ with a simple principle: after you scrape the innards of an expensive vanilla bean, you run the empty pod in a container with a little sugar, and the sugar will be “absorbâThe vanilla aroma.
It is, as Parks points out in his tweet, pure madness. The solid crystallized sugar is incapable of extracting the compounds soluble in water (or soluble in ethanol). The sugar container will emit a beautiful vanilla aroma when you open it, but the sugar crystals will not have vanilla flavor.
If you want to make real vanilla sugar, you’ll need to mix the insides of the bean with sucrose (a food processor can help distribute the gooey seeds). And if you want to extract flavor of a scraped pod, you will have to use dairy, water or alcohol.
Parks a many suggestions so what to do with these aromatic pods instead, but my usual strategy for mitigating depleted pods is to do the vanilla fernet, which involves to pay amaro on the empty bean and let it sit for a week or two. Whatever you do, make sure you get liquid involved; vanilla pods, even empty, are far too valuable to waste on something that is simply fragrant, even pleasantly.