Vanilla beans are often overlooked as a expensive, inconvenient, “I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this” product. It is true that they take a little getting used to compared to the ubiquitous vanilla extract, and they are definitely a premium item. But, if you can find it in your heart to buy some beans just once, vanilla sugar might win you over.
What do you use it for? Anything that might get a boost from a hint of vanilla: lattes and hot chocolate, to fruit, to cookies. The possibilities are endless. And delicious.
So how do you make it? You need an airtight jar or tub, some white sugar, and of course your vanilla bean. Split it open lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the sugar, then bury the remains of the pod. Or, if you don’t want little black seeds spread through your nice white sugar (they do have a tendency to clump together), use the pod/seeds to make some honest-to-goodness vanilla ice cream or pastry cream and then wash and dry the bean pod before dropping it in your sugar.
Give it a good few days to a week, and keep swapping bean pods and adding sugar to the jar as you use them. The sugar will pick up more vanilla flavour the longer you leave it.