Like so many wonderful things in life, I discovered vanilla salt by accident. Several years ago I was planning a princess birthday party for my daughter when I stumbled upon a recipe for pink popcorn. It is sort of like pink caramel corn sprinkled with vanilla salt. What princess party can be complete without pink popcorn? The pink popcorn made the treats list for the party and that was the introduction I needed to form a serious relationship with vanilla salt. You know, a classic story about a girl meeting a guy (vanilla salt) through another guy (pink popcorn). I know, pink popcorn isn’t really getting the love here, but what can I say? Vanilla salt is just…..my type. https://www.cravingsofalunatic.com/old-fashioned-pink-popcorn/
Now, I had heard of vanilla sugar (I always have a jar of that in the pantry), but I had never heard of vanilla salt. The recipe called for it though, and at that time in my life I truly did not stray from a recipe the first time I tried something. Therefore, I made the fancy schmancy vanilla salt for the popcorn recipe. It was a stretch at the time because vanilla beans are expensive and I wasn’t sure if it would make that big of an impact. Then I realized the recipe for the vanilla salt made much more than what I needed for the popcorn. No way was I going to toss the leftovers. That was the last day I baked with plain ole sea salt. Seriously, that was about 8 years ago!
Vanilla salt brings an added depth of vanilla flavor to baked goods without the aftertaste of being heavy handed with the vanilla extract. SO GUILTY OF THAT! I also enjoy seeing all those natural vanilla bean flecks in my food. If you’re a fan of vanilla bean ice cream- you will be a die hard for vanilla bean salt. Please don’t panic about your food looking “dirty.” (Did you know that’s what my kids used to say about vanilla bean ice cream?! It’s shocking. Thankfully I’ve trained that notion out of them.) There’s not enough of the beans in the salt, or salt in any recipe to truly add much fleck to anything. It can be noticed occasionally in white frosting or a sugar cookie, but that’s about it.
So, let’s make a batch together.
You’ll need a bowl, a glass jar (at least 4 oz), a sharp knife, a cutting board, 1 whole vanilla bean, and ½ Cup of flaked sea salt.
If this is your first time purchasing vanilla beans, you may experience a bit of sticker shock. A cyclone hit Madagascar back in 2017 and caused vanilla prices to increase up to 600%. Demand for all natural ingredients in our food have also increased demand for real vanilla, so we will probably have to get accustomed to vanilla beans always being pricey.
My favorite vanilla beans are Madagascar Vanilla Beans from Penzey’s Spices. They are always fresh, soft, and somehow less expensive than what my grocery store carries. There are three in a glass vial, so you can easily make a triple batch of this flavorful salt and have it on hand for a long while, or make some gift jars for friends. The salt lasts quite a while as most baking recipes call for a teaspoon or less of salt, and there are 24 teaspoons of vanilla salt in 1 batch of this recipe.
You can use your preferred type of salt for this recipe. I do find that flake salt seems to provide more flavor when I bake, and it seems easiest to blend with the vanilla beans. I typically use Penzey’s Kosher Style Flake Salt for this recipe as well as most of my cooking and baking.
Here we go!
Gather your materials:
Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise:
Lay one half of the pod so the beans are exposed. Use the flat side of the knife to scrape the beans from the pod.
That is all natural flavor folks.
Place the scraped beans into the bowl with the salt and repeat with the other half of the pod. Be mindful to keep your fingers away from the sharp side of your knife blade!
Once you’ve removed the beans from the pod, you can now enjoy some serious aromatherapy as you massage the vanilla beans into the salt. Dig those clean fingers into the bowl and rub the salt and beans together. This is my favorite part. Crazy tip, my physical therapist also recommends this type of hand movement to improve hand strength.
And Voila! Your aromatic vanilla salt is ready to be placed in a glass jar with the remnants of the pod for maximum flavor extraction over time.
Using vanilla salt will develop a natural vanilla flavor to any sweet dessert or dish.
1/2 Cup Kosher Style Flake Sea Salt
1 Vanilla Bean Pod (I prefer Penzey’s Madagascar Vanilla Beans)
- Measure salt into a large bowl.
- Cut vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise to create two long canoes.
- Use the dull side of a knife to scrape the beans from the two parts of the pod and mix into the salt.
- Use your fingers to rub the beans into the salt until they are well separated and the salt is fragrant.
- Store salt in a glass container with the scraped pods. Use in your favorite baked goods and sweet recipes in place of regular salt.
- Penzey’s vanilla bean pods are the freshest, and softest, I have found. It’s worth ordering them online if you don’t have a Penzey’s near you. Dried out pods are difficult to cut and can be a challenge to scrape without getting the fibrous pod pieces along with the flavorful beans.
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