Maple syrup, the sweet gift from the maple tree that's extremely popular in the United States and Canada, has delightfully been on tap for centuries, making regular dishes a little bit sweeter and a whole lot stickier — in a good way. Since its early discovery by Native Americans — recorded as far back as the 1600s — its caramel, nutty flavor has made its way into countless maple syrup recipes for everything from desserts to cocktails and popcorn. Yes, popcorn.
And it's fair to say that whoever first decided to create maple-glazed bacon might just be the hero the world needs. But what if there was a simple way to take maple syrup up a notch and add some seriously sweet and sophisticated flavor? The good news is that simply adding a vanilla bean to your bottle can do just that. That's right; infusing your maple syrup with a vanilla bean can take a bottle from average to extraordinary.
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How To Add A Vanilla Bean To Your Maple Syrup
You'll be glad to know that adding vanilla bean pods to your maple syrup is fairly simple. You just insert the pod into the syrup bottle, then let it sit for about a month in the refrigerator with the top securely tightened to allow the bean enough time to release its sweet, caramel flavor into the syrup. However, it's important to note that this infusion method refers to 100% maple syrup, not pancake syrup. While the two are similar, pancake syrup is packed with artificial flavoring and lacks the natural toasty flavor of its maple counterpart, so if you try this with pancake syrup, the resulting flavor may not be the same.
As far as which grade of syrup to use, Grade A Light Amber is recommended, as not only is its mellow flavor ideal for infusion and everyday use (Grade B syrup has a more robust maple flavor and is generally used for baking). Additionally, its light color will allow the pod to show through, enhancing its presentation, especially if you plan to gift your vanilla-infused syrup. When you're ready to serve your syrup, you can do so straight out of the refrigerator or warm it up, depending on your preference. If you choose to warm it, you'll want to simply heat the bottle in a pan of hot water over medium-low heat until warm.
Other Ways You Can Use Those Leftover Vanilla Bean Pods
With a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of creativity, you can repurpose your vanilla bean pods in many other ways, too. But before you do, it's important that you rinse them under cool water to get any remaining seeds out, then pat them dry. Next, you'll want to cool the pods in the oven on low to ensure they are free of any residual moisture, which could affect their quality. Once your pods are dried, place them in an airtight container at room temperature, and they'll keep for up to two years.
Feel free to get creative with your vanilla bean pods — besides maple syrup, you can also infuse those pods into lemon simple syrup or cold brew coffee to take your drinks — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — to the next level. For recipes, leftover vanilla will need to be saturated in your vanilla-based ingredient longer than its fresh counterpart, about a day. You can even store them in a container of ready-to-eat snacks to add a creamy aroma. So, the next time you have a few leftover vanilla beans, keep them for later. You never know when that sweet vanilla essence will come in handy.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.