A few weeks ago I shared my Crème Brûlée recipe with you. After posting it, I got this response from my Mom, “Hold everything! All that stuff about flame throwers and steel toes shoes but nary a word to clarify “one vanilla bean split and scraped” !?!”
So, I guess I need to do a tutorial on how to split and seed a vanilla bean. I took for granted that splitting a vanilla bean was self-explanatory. I guess I was wrong. I bought a bunch of vanilla beans a while ago. I got a great price on them. (I ordered them from www.saffron.com. You have to be willing to buy them in bulk, but they are MUCH less expensive.) Despite being kept in a sealed container, mine have started to dry out, so I’ve been testing solutions and will share the results with you as well.
First off, you need a vanilla bean.
Take your vanilla bean and place on a cutting board. Use a paring knife or other short knife. (It is easier to control a smaller knife.) Hold one end of the vanilla bean onto the cutting board and slice lengthwise down the bean with your knife.
With your fingers, gently open up the pod and try to get it to lie flat on the cutting board.
Drag or scrape the backside (not sharp side) of the knife against the exposed surface of the opened bean.
You will end up with a little clump of vanilla beans like this.
You usually get between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon of the tiny vanilla seeds from a bean. These seeds are what you use in your recipes. You can save the husk and put it in a container of sugar to make vanilla sugar. Or you can simmer with the milk and cream in the crème brûlée or an ice cream recipe. It will infuse vanilla flavor. Just make sure you strain it out before you eat it.
If you have a vanilla bean that has dried out, there are methods for reviving it. Click here to read about them.