The White Sugar Substitute For Homemade Vanilla Syrup With A Better Flavor

Simple syrup is one of the easiest things in the world to make at home. All you have to do is combine an even ratio of sugar and water, simmer it until the sugar dissolves, let it cool, then store it. It's also easy to incorporate other flavors into simple syrups, and vanilla syrup is one of our favorites, especially for amping up coffee and cocktails at home. Considering that real Madagascar vanilla is so expensive, one way to get the most out of those precious pods is to swap commonly used white sugar for a sugar with more depth of flavor: turbinado sugar. 

There are many different types of sugar, but white sugar is the most common. It comes from plants, usually either sugar beets or sugar cane. But although it starts from a natural source, white sugar is a highly refined product that barely resembles its earthly beginnings. While it's not detrimental in small doses, consuming large quantities of highly processed refined white sugar can lead to increased health risks over time. 

Turbinado sugar, while it's still technically a refined sugar and should be consumed in moderation, is much less refined than its white counterpart. Similar to white sugar, turbinado comes from the juice of a sugar cane plant. After boiling the water out of the sugar cane juice, the concentrated sweet liquid goes through a crystallization process, resulting in large sugar crystals. These crystals are what we know as turbinado sugar.  

Turbinado sugar's depth of flavor complements vanilla

Due to it being less refined than white sugar, turbinado sugar retains much of its depth of flavor and coloring. Turbinado sugar doesn't lose its naturally occurring molasses flavor in the refining process, and this contributes to its caramel-like taste. These flavors complement the rich notes found in vanilla beans, something that can't be achieved if you're using white sugar, which doesn't contribute anything flavor-wise other than pure sweetness. Turbinado sugar is therefore the superior sugar to use in your homemade vanilla syrup.

To make a vanilla bean syrup at home, simply use a 1:1 ratio of turbinado sugar to water and add a split, scraped vanilla bean pod to the pot, making sure to get every last vanilla seed into the liquid. Let the mixture simmer gently for 25 to 30 minutes to extract as much flavor as possible from the vanilla pod. Then, allow the syrup to cool completely before removing the spent vanilla pod and transferring the syrup to an airtight container. 

Don't throw out that valuable pod just yet! There are so many things you can do with scraped vanilla bean pods. If you can't get your hands on a whole vanilla bean pod, a vanilla bean paste is a great substitute and a worthwhile investment for your pantry. Whatever you use, we beg you to avoid using artificial vanilla in your baking if you can.