dried out vanilla beans
rumaging through the back of a kitchen cupboard i found a horded bag of 10 madagascar vanilla beans, ca. 2003. - apparently i was afraid of the empending shortage and packed them away for a special occasion.
well, now that the price of vanilla is dropping, it's time to celebrate. the only thing is what to do with these dried out sticks? they're definitely too hard to cut or scrape. i've made vanilla sugar (powdering a bean and sugar in the spice blender), but would like some other ideas. can i plump them back up? soak em in booze?
I can only presume that a good hour of soaking in boiling water will at least get them plump enough to slice... as is the case with any other dried item (like shittakes or dried chiles)...
Yes, you can reconstitute dried out vanilla pods pretty easily and quickly. Take a paper towel, run it under water, wring out the water gently, unfold, roll vanilla pod in it like a jelly roll and microwave in 20 second intervals until the towel is warm/hot through. Then just let it sit for about 1/2 or an hour.
I sometimes wrap the damp paper towel wrapped pod in plastic wrap then zap. (Seals in the moisture better). Then I just let it sit on my kitchen counter for a couple of hours till it's super soft and pliable again.
After I've split the pod open and scraped out all the beans I can for my recipe I cut the spent pod in half again and place it into my bottle of vanilla extract to get out any goodness that could possibly be left on it. Then whenever I reach for my extract I do a shake and there's a good amount of beans in my extract.
Does anyone else out there judge a good crème brulee partly by the tiny black seeds at the bottom of the ramekin?
Take a pod and put it in a jar with powdered sugar. Seal and store in a dark place a month to get vanilla sugar that's good in coffee, baking, cocoa, etc. You could also make a bunch of these and give as gifts. I like the vodka idea too.