Sunday, October 17, 2010

How to Prepare Vanilla Bean?

Source: The Organic Vanilla Bean Company

This tip is on how to prepare vanilla bean for use in cooking or baking.

 1. Before cutting, and to prevent injury, ensure that the bean is soft and moist.  If the bean is hard, place it in water, milk or the intended infusing liquid until it becomes soft and moist.  Place the moist bean on a firm surface such as a cutting board.  Place your thumb and two fingers firmly on one end of the bean.

2. Then reverse the bean and place your thumb/fingers on the other end of the bean and again draw the knife away from your hand towards the other end of the bean splitting the remaining uncut portion.  The bean should now be completely split lengthwise, exposing the ‘caviar’ seeds inside the bean.  Never draw the knife toward your hand.

3. Pry open the split side, remove the seeds from the bean with a knife and chop the pod into small pieces.  Infuse the complete bean pod and caviar in the cold or warm infusion liquid that you have selected (such as water, milk or your other choice).  This will make the ‘custard’.

4. After infusing for at least 15 mins, filter out the pieces of the outer pod using a spoon or small mesh (e.g. tea strainer).  This will leave only the tiny black ‘caviar’ seeds in the remaining liquid.

5. Some recipes call for a clear (but not necessarily colorless) liquid, in which case it may desire to remove the small seeds.  This is done by filtering the infused liquid through a coffee filter.  However, removing these seeds will also remove a crucial flavour source; so ensure that the liquid is fully infused prior to filtering if you follow this procedure.

6. Use the custard for all cooking needs, as vanilla extract cannot be used for baking because its flavour components will dissipate at about 300°F (150°C).

7. Discard the filtered residue, as this cannot be used for any other food purpose.  However, the residue is very effective for odor control when added to cat litter.

A large vanilla bean weighing 4-5g will yield about 1g (< 1 tsp) of vanillin or heliotropin seeds, roughly equivalent to flavour a recipe for 10 servings.  Therefore, do adjust the size of the bean or infusion according to the recipe being prepared (eg. Use ½ a bean for a recipe for 5 servings).


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