Vanilla Sugar & Label to Download

December 8th, 2010 / Comments 2

This has been vanilla week in my kitchen. Often, vanilla is used as an adjective to describe something that is plain, ordinary or uninteresting, but vanilla week has been creative, exciting and tasty. I’ve made vanilla sugar and vanilla extract to give as gifts this Christmas. They both need time for the flavor to develop so the timing was perfect.

vanilla sugar Vanilla Sugar & Label to Download

Vanilla begins as the seedpod of an orchid native to Mexico. Conquistador was my sister’s favorite word, and I remember when she told me that it was a conquistador, Hernan Cortes, who brought both chocolate and vanilla to Europe in the sixteenth century after observing Montezuma drink a mixture made with cocoa beans, vanilla and honey.

Vanilla grows as a vine with white flowers. The Melipona bee, the only insect that pollinates vanilla, is native to Central America, and so when grown in the tropics anywhere else in the world, vanilla must be pollinated by hand. Vanilla flowers last only one day and growers inspect their plantations every day for open flowers. The beans, actually seedpods formed by the pollinated flowers, are harvested by hand and then cured in a four-step process. The first step, wilting the vanilla beans, is done either by a quick dip in hot water, by freezing, or by heating in an oven or in the sun. Step two, sweating, consists of wrapping the beans in woolen blankets and baking them in the tropical sun. The beans are then dried to prevent rotting and to lock in the aroma. The final step, conditioning, is achieved by storing the beans in closed boxes for a few months. The intensity of labor required to grow and cure vanilla makes it the second most expensive flavoring after saffron.Vanilla sugar brings flavor and aroma to coffee and hot chocolate, is delicious when used to sweetened oatmeal, can be sprinkled on fresh berries or on fruit before it is baked. It’s an easy way to add flavor to meringues, marshmallows or custard and is a gift that makes both cooks and non-cooks happy. The six jars I made will be ready by Christmas. Here’s how I did it:

Vanilla Sugar

I put one vanilla bean, split lengthwise, in each one-pint jars, covered the bean with granulated sugar, put lid on the jar and gave it a shake. That’s it! I put the jars on a shelf in the pantry near the tea so I will be reminded to shake them occasionally. In a couple of weeks, the vanilla will have flavored the sugar and I will be wrap the jars and deliver them to friends. I made a label for the vanilla sugar that lists some of its uses, and suggests that, if the jar is refilled with granulated sugar when half of the sugar has been used and then left to steep for a few days, the vanilla bean will continue to flavor sugar until next Christmas. You can download and print the label HERE.>> Print This Post <<


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Vanilla Sugar & Label to Download at Vermont food from a country kitchen – Carol

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