Pure vanilla is the taste of luxury. Besides being the second most expensive spice in the world, it brings a warming aromatic flavor and sweet comforting taste to many desserts, drinks, baked goods, ice cream, and even some savory dishes.
You’re probably familiar with prized vanilla beans, pure vanilla extract, and the cheaper artificial version, vanilla essence. What about vanilla powder? Here is a full guide explaining what it is, how to use it and how to make it at home.
Made from the pods of a vanilla bean, the powder is a dried and ground form of the spice. It has a more intense flavor than the extract and can be used in the same way as the extract in baking, custards, and warm drinks.
How To Use Vanilla Powder In Cooking
When vanilla powder is called for in a recipe, it is usually only needed in small quantities due to its flavor intensity.
Most baking, dessert, or custard recipes only require ½ to one teaspoon of the powder. It can also be lightly sprinkled on cookies, French toast, and baked fruits for a great aromatic addition.
When combined with sugar it makes a great sweet spice sprinkled on doughnuts and pancakes. It can be added to coffee, milk, or used to infuse waffle batter.
When using vanilla powder as a substitute for other types of vanilla products, use less since the flavor is more concentrated.
For every teaspoon of vanilla extract required, use only ½ a teaspoon of powder. Similarly, you will only need ½ a teaspoon of powder to replace one full pod or 1 teaspoon of paste.
Where Can You Buy Vanilla Powder?
Pure vanilla is expensive, whether in the bean, paste, or powder form. You can expect to pay around US$10 or more per ounce for the powder if you can manage to find it. Specialty stores and large grocery stores may stock the powder in the baking section. It is more easily obtainable online.
If you have the beans on hand, you can make your own powder by dehydrating and grinding them. Below you will find detailed instructions for making your own powder at home.
Benefits of Making Vanilla Powder
The great thing about making the powder at home is that it is 100% natural and has zero waste. You use the entire pod, including the casing so you get the best bang for your buck, unlike recipes that use the seeds only and discard the pods.
Another benefit to using vanilla powder is that it maintains its flavor even when baked at high heat. Most artificial vanilla products evaporate and lose their flavor intensity when exposed to high temperatures.
The powder provides an alcohol-free flavoring as opposed to the extract which might be unsuitable for some people due to health or religious reasons.
DIY Vanilla Powder
To make your own powder you need to start by drying out around 5 vanilla pods using a food dehydrator or dehydrating them in the oven on a lined baking sheet. They need to dry at a very low temperature, around 50 °C/122 °F.
If you are drying the pods in the oven, the heat needs to be at its lowest setting for an hour and a half. If your oven doesn’t go lower than 80 °C/176 °F, prop the door open slightly to prevent the pods from overheating.
Check on the pods every 20 to 30 minutes to ensure they do not cook or burn. When you remove the pods from the oven they will still be bendable but as they cool they will harden to become crisp and brittle to touch. If they are still pliable once cooled they have not dehydrated sufficiently.
When the pods have cooled completely, use a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder to grind the whole beans into a powder. Vanilla is a delicate flavor so make sure the grinder is completely cleaned and free of any other flavors that may taint the vanilla taste.
The powder should be stored in a clean, dry airtight container. Keep it in a cool dark area such as your pantry cupboard.
Do not refrigerate, freeze or leave the powder in direct sunlight as this will diminish the flavor intensity. If dried and stored correctly you will be able to use it for up to a year.
See more: Vanilla extract replacement
Real, pure vanilla powder is brown and is made of 100% ground vanilla beans. Powders that consist of sugar compounds such as dextrose and are sprayed with vanilla extract are sometimes labeled as vanilla powder but their white color is a dead giveaway that they are not pure vanilla but mostly sugar.
Real vanilla powder does not dissolve although it is still suitable to add to coffee, milk, and batters. Since the powder is so fine it won’t affect the texture in a negative way and will hardly be noticeable.
Pure vanilla spice is healthy and contains a good level of antioxidants that are known to protect the body’s cells against toxins. Synthetic flavoring, however, has no health properties.
You can identify pure vanilla powder by its dark brown color. White powders contain a large amount of sugars and artificial components that are sprayed with vanilla flavoring, therefore containing very little, if any, of the real spice.
Making your own powder at home is easy and the intense flavor and aroma just can’t be beaten.
*image by malyarevsky.stock.gmail.com/depositphotos