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Working with Vanilla

Vanilla is used in loads of cooking, both sweet and occasionally savoury. Here are a selection of SORTED recipes where we've focussed on vanilla.

How to use Vanilla Pods
vanillapods

1) Use whole to infuse liquids. Especially good when the liquid is warmed. Pick out before using the liquid to retain the pod for another occasion.
2) Split the pod open to increase surface area and infuse more flavour quicker.
3) Scrape the seeds out of the pod using the back of a knife to release the black seeds which people associate with a high quality ingredient.
4) After use, wash the pod in cold water, dry out and store in a jar of sugar. This infuses the sugar and results in vanilla sugar, which can also be bought from shops at a premium.

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More info...

What is Vanilla?
It simply translates as ‘little pod’ and is a flavouring used in a lot of cooking, which originated in Mexico but is now grown in many countries… Indonesia and Madagascar being the largest producers.

There are 3 main types:-

VANILLA POD
• It's the world's 2nd most expensive spice (after saffron) because it is labour-intensive to produce.
• It's grown as a fruit on an orchid and contains black seeds, which are flavourless… the flavour and perfume comes from the fruit and pod membrane itself.
• Often bought as individual pods from a supermarket.
• Best stored in a cool, airtight container.

VANILLA EXTRACT
• Processed into a liquid from natural vanilla before purchased. Relatively expensive but of high quality.
• Can usually buy this with or without the stereotypical black seeds.
• It is strong stuff and only very little is required.
• It does lose its freshness over time, similar to coffee beans.
• Simply stir into ingredients as per the recipe.

VANILLA ESSENCE/FLAVOURING
• A synthetic chemical that replicates the compound vanillan, which is responsible for the aroma and flavour given off by vanilla.
• Not as authentic and pure as vanilla, but blind taste tests suggest that in baked or cooked goods they give the same flavour. Not as good as natural vanilla in dairy products like ice cream.
• It is much cheaper and doesn’t deteriorate as much over time.
• 95% of vanilla flavoured products use essence.
• Simply stir into ingredients as per the recipe.

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Working with Vanilla

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