Most people think of vanilla as being boring, simple and basic. It’s not, it’s just that most of you have never had real vanilla, you’ve had alcohol based imitation bullshit. Real Vanilla is potent and stands out in a dish. Much like real Saffron, it’s expensive and slightly hard to find but well worth the effort since you don’t need much and the difference is night and day. Yeah, I know that they’ve come out with some “high quality extracts” but comparing them to the real thing is still like masturbation when you could be having a great lay.
So what is real Vanilla? It’s a flavoring that is derived from the seed pods of a Mexican Orchid. Natives had been using it for years and it was introduced to Europe in the 1500’s. The big reason it’s so expensive is that it takes several years for the plants to mature and then they still have to be pollinated by hand so it’s a very labor intensive endeavor. But sooo worth it.
So when you buy it, it’s still going to be in pod form and you need to scrap out the seeds. Most of my readers will understand the following metaphor. It’s like cutting open a blunt that’s filled with resin. You have to split it down the middle and then scrape the black stuff from the inside. I know it looks weird but a little goes a long way and unless you’re doing a massive batch of something then you won’t need more then one or two pods.
If you really want to be cool, you can buy a pack of pods and a bag of normal white sugar. Just cover the pods with the sugar in an airtight container. The sugar will absorb a little bit of flavor over time but the pods will stay potent. Little things like real vanilla sugar make all the difference in cooking.