Tip: Use Spent Vanilla Beans to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract
So you've scraped a vanilla bean to use in in a recipe — don't toss it! Vanilla beans or pods aren't cheap, so you might as well make the most of them. Plus they still have plenty of fragrance and flavor. How about using them to make your own vanilla extract?
Whenever I scrape a vanilla bean, I add the leftover pieces to a small bottle or jar of Everclear (you could also use vodka) and give it a good shake. These remnants aren't quite as potent as whole vanilla beans, but after a few months, and with the addition of more pods, the alcohol is nicely infused. You could also add a whole bean to the bottle if you're feeling impatient.
Note that you shouldn't use vanilla pods that have been cooked with, only those that have been scraped to remove the pulp. Here's a post with more information on homemade vanilla extract. If you want a shorter-term project, you could use the pods to make scented sugar, instead.
Do you have any other tips for using spent vanilla beans?
(Images: Emily Han)