What To Do With Scraped Vanilla Bean Pods

Vanilla bean isn't just a flavor of grocery store ice cream. Per the Organic Consumers Association, vanilla beans are the fruit of a type of orchid flower indigenous to Madagascar, India, Indonesia, the West Indies, and Puerto Rico. Vanilla beans are long, thin, dark pods that are sliced lengthwise to extract the dark vanilla pearls inside. 

Not only is it fragrant and delicious, but vanilla also carries some perhaps-unexpected health benefits. Vanillin is a natural compound found in vanilla that boasts impressive antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties, according to Healthline. It can even improve neurological health.

Opting for vanilla beans over vanilla extract, can also take your dish to the next level. Taste of Home lauds the ingredient as providing the "purest, most intense vanilla flavor." However, they're an investment — just two Madagascar Vanilla Beans can cost around $15 at Whole Foods. Plus, once you're done scooping out the vanilla inside, you're left with a big leftover pod that could create food waste. Rest assured, here's how you can get your money's worth and reuse those scraped vanilla bean pods.

Infuse those pods into sugar or salt

Vanilla sugar, anyone? How about vanilla salt? To give those scraped pods new life, toss them in a blender with sugar or salt and grind them up (via America's Test Kitchen). If you prefer a subtler vanilla taste, the outlet recommends keeping the blender in its cupboard and just stick those pods in an airtight container with your granulated sugar. A few weeks of infusing should do the trick.

Vanilla sugar also adds a flavorful punch to baked goods — use it in your cookie and cake recipes instead of granulated sugar and vanilla extract, per SPICEography. Or, sprinkle baked goods with vanilla sugar as a topping. Bob's Red Mill suggests simply using it as your everyday sugar for stirring into coffee, oatmeal, or whatever you normally sweeten with a lovin' spoonful. 

If you're a baker by day, and a mixologist by night, vanilla salt can also be a behind-the-bar superstar. Frozen cocktails like a tropical Painkiller or citrus-forward Paloma could benefit from a vanilla salt rim. Vanilla sugar could work great behind the bar, too, reports CookingLight. Use it to make a vanilla simple syrup, which would be complementary to any cocktail made with cream liqueur. Even rim the glasses of stronger drinks with it for a sweet finish, like an Old Fashioned. Whichever way you choose to use this leftover ingredient, your tastebuds will thank you.