homemade vanilla sugar & extract

when you are reading this in the US or UK you might laugh your butt off. but: vanilla sugar and vanilla extract is something very hard to find in switzerland. when really, it is such an essential product to work with when you spend hours in the kitchen, baking cookies, tarts and cakes. i used to bring gallons of vanilla extract back home from my holidays in the US. last time i had my suitcase plastic wrapped (it was so heavy i wanted to make sure it was all safe and sealed and nothing would fall out of the suitcase). at the airport i handed my suitcase over to this young, handsome and muscular man. he had trouble lifting it up. so he started to grumble and wiped away the sweat on his forehead. then he asked: why is this so heavy? are you carrying around dead bodies or what? - the guy at security check wasnt too happy with the amount of liquid in my suitcase, too. i had to unpack my whole suitcase so he could have a look. what a nightmare! it took me ages to repack...thats when i knew, it was about time to come up with another solution for my vanilla sugar/extract problem. the lovely ina garden has a recipe in one of her books for vanilla extract and so far i have made about 20 bottles of homemade vanilla extract, since they make wonderful presents, too. just make sure it has enough time to infuse. the vanilla sugar on the other hand is probably the best use for vanilla pods that already had their seeds scraped out. really wonderful in a cake, a cup of coffee or sprinkled over some fresh berries. make sure you always have a glass full of it in your cupboard!

RECIPE homemade vanilla extract

1 liter of vodka
about 7-10 vanilla pods, split open

put vodka in a preservation bottle and add the vanilla pods. let stand and infuse for about 2-3 months. top up bottle with vodka from time to time, you want to make sure the pods are always covered in liquid. also add new (more!) vanilla pods from time to time. this keeps for years!

RECIPE homemade vanilla sugar

1 kg of sugar
2-3 vanilla pods, seeds scraped out

put sugar in a jar, with the help of a blender (or simply a whisk) mix the seeds into the sugar. dont worry, this doesnt have to be perfectly mixed. stick pods into the sugar, close and let infuse for at least 2 weeks.throughout the time, add new sugar and vanilla pods.