When working in Nicaragua in May, I had a chance to take a long hike through the rainforest. While knee-deep in jungle, my guide pointed out a vanilla tree dripping in long, bright green pods. I nearly jumped out of my skin I was so happy. Vanilla beans for my taking! I carefully removed six long pods and brought them home, tucked in a sock, thereby breaking several teeny tiny international laws.

vanilla sugar process

I decided I’d use them to make vanilla sugar for holiday gifts. The directions are very simple — place 2 cups of sugar and one vanilla bean in a jar. Seal the jar for 2 weeks. Remove the bean. Viola — vanilla-flavored sugar.

saving jars

I saved every jar I could for several months and then took the opportunity to clean out my fridge to find a few more. With 10 jars, 1 giant bag of sugar and 6 vanilla bean pods I set out to make my project. It was only when I sliced open the first pod did I realize my grave error. The pods were green because they hadn’t matured. Even though they’d turned a beautiful coffee brown when drying in my pantry, they’d never fully germinated. There were no vanilla beans inside.
Considering I had all of the other ingredients, I went to the market to buy the missing piece. For $12, I purchased two tiny vanilla pods and made do.

vanilla sugar tags

On another note entirely, thank you for all of your well wishes with the race. They worked! I set another personal best time and was really happy with my progress. Something about my training is going right!

.5 marathon, tucson