'How to's

How to Toast and Grind a Vanilla Bean (with step-by-step video and images)

Ever wonder to yourself “What the heck can I do with this vanilla bean now I’ve scraped the seeds out?”

Of course, you’ve probably heard of making your own vanilla extract by placing a few of those babies in some vodka for a few weeks, but pshht, sometimes, you just don’t have the patience to wait for that! So what can we do? WE IS GONNA TOAST IT UP BABY!

This works with whole vanilla beans (for those too liable to cut their fingers while scraping out the seeds *cough* me *cough*) or just the de-seeded vanilla pod! There’s intense vanilla goodness in the whole thing; but how do we access it quickly and easily? Let me explain!!

To get the flavour out of the vanilla there are two ways I’ve mentioned – soaking it in alcohol for a while and toasting:

  • When the vanilla is soaked in vodka, most of the flavoursome essential oils are dissolved into the alcohol, flavouring it – however this does take a while, and the alcohol dilutes the flavour so we resort to toasting!
  • You may be familiar with the idea of toasting certain things such as nuts, coconut, oats, flours ect… to increase the flavour of theย ingredientsย  this is done because when you toast something (i.e. heat it for a short period of time with a relatively high heat, until kinda crisp) the oils inside the ingredient heat up, and are released. Fat is a flavour enhancer and carrier, it makes things be damn tasty… you know what I’m talking about. Then by grinding the bean up, we are increasing the surface area:volume ratio (basically, there is more delicious surface area of the vanilla bean available to our tastebuds), giving us access to the vanilla-scented-oil within!
It’s as simple (or complicated…) as that.
This method literally takes about 5 minutes from start to finish, you don’t even need a fancy grinder to get the vanilla bean to a fine texture, a pestle and mortar works wonders!! This toasted vanilla bean powder is pretty dang intense flavour wise and will give your baked goods that awesome vanilla bean speckled look (don’t worry, it doesn’t make them look burnt or weirdly coloured)!

I use a whole toasted vanilla bean in my new video and upcoming post for Toasted Vanilla Bean Raspberry Cakes with coconut and almond. The first few scenes of the video show the prep for the toasted vanilla bean, so give it a look if you want:

Toasted Vanilla Bean Raspberry Cakes with coconut and almond from Izy Hossack – Top With Cinnamon on Vimeo.

 

You can also grind it into sugar to make really flavourful vanilla sugar! I used a pestle and mortar for mine, but you can easily pulse it together in a food processor or just rub it into the sugar with your fingertips
Also, a quick shout out to Xanath Ice Cream in San Francisco where I got 2 free vanilla beans from; you can get ’em too if you go into the store and ask ๐Ÿ™‚

Notes:

– I suggest replacing aย maximum of 1 ground vanilla bean per 1 tbsp of vanilla extractย in a recipe – this will produce a really delicious intense vanilla flavour like you’ve never tasted before!

– You can use a whole or de-seeded vanilla bean for this recipe

What you’ll need!:

1 vanilla bean (whole or de-seeded)

a knife

a small skillet

pestle and mortar or spice grinder or coffee grinder

 

 

Cut a slit down the length of the vanilla bean, just like when normally preparing it to scrape out the seeds.

Chop the vanilla bean into small pieces.

Pour the chopped vanilla bean into a small skillet and toast over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly until fragrant (this should only take a minute or two).

Immediately transfer the toasted, chopped vanilla bean into your pestle and mortar / spice grinder / coffee grinder. Grind until you get a mealy black/brown powder.


Use straight away, or store in a small, sealed bag or jar.

 

 

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  • Loretta E October 3, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Oh, you are a genius! Too bad I literally tossed out my last vanilla bean. It was old and dried out and I bet this would have revived it! At least it would have been worth a try.

    • Izy October 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ Aww, no! It would have been perfect for this!

  • Alison October 6, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I just wanted to tell you how amazing your pictures and creations are in a general way. I am going to have very vivid and guilt-ridden dreams tonight. I want to eat everything. Twice. I’m especially excited for the Lemon Polenta Cake. I love finding recipes that are already gluten-free so I don’t have to figure out how to tweak so many things.

    • Izy October 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      thank you so much! haha, I generally do end up eating twice the amount I should of everything I make; Firstly there’s the taste-testing while baking – that’s vital, and then of course I have to taste the final product to make sure it’s good enough to serve to anyone else ๐Ÿ˜‰ Mm the lemon polenta cake is one of my faves!

  • emine October 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    you have a bloomin amazing blog, i cant belive you’re only 16!
    such raw talent.
    may i ask who designed your blog?
    http://www.mbakes.com
    x

    • Izy October 9, 2012 at 12:13 am

      Thank you so much! I completely designed and half-coded my blog from scratch, including all the logos and illustrations ๐Ÿ™‚

      • emine October 9, 2012 at 11:44 am

        well i must get you to do mine then!
        haha.
        cant wait to have the time to watch your videos !

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  • eiras January 8, 2013 at 6:11 am

    this is a terrific idea! a small caveat: i used the toaster oven to toast my bean before grinding it up, which is also fine IF you watch it rather closely. just popping it in and waiting until the timer goes off wasn’t the best choice – i burned the first bean i tried. on the plus side, my kitchen now has a lovely, burnt vanilla aroma similar to vanilla coffee.

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  • mike mcnerney March 2, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I’ve wondered if you can use raw vanilla beanin something like a milkshake?
    I will try your ‘roasting method because i guess that cooks it somewhat.
    MM

    • Izy March 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      yeah you probably can use a whole raw vanilla bean, you would just need to make sure that your blender is strong enough to blend a whole vanilla bean – when yo toast it, it a) brings out the flavour of the vanilla more and b) crisps up the vanilla bean so you’re able to grind it up into a powder ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • John V February 23, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Izy –
    Working on a vegan cake mix and need to give the vanilla flavor a boast. Currently I use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for a 9 X 13 cake and it is not giving us the flavor that we are looking for. Do you think one bean will do it? Trying to keep the cost of the mix reasonable for customers. Thanks

  • herb grinder May 6, 2015 at 7:46 am

    I had no idea you could do this! I am super impressed, that rocks and is so liberating. Thank you! herb grinder

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  • misty johnson April 16, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    this is the best explanation and help over the many websites i looked at regarding dried vanilla beans and what to do with them-thank you

  • Pat October 20, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Do the seeds need to be removed from the bean?

    • Izy October 23, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      nope! This works with un-scraped or scraped beans.

      • Arianna Shahidah Williams April 12, 2017 at 10:52 pm

        Can you use this method when making vanilla bean shea butter?

        • Izy April 13, 2017 at 9:34 am

          never tried it myself so I’m not sure!

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