No matter the season, vanilla sugar provides the first step into a calm sea on a turbulent day. When a moment of peace and serenity is needed, I add the sugar to hot chocolate, sugar cookies, or strawberries. Best of all: vanilla sugar is an affordable luxury when made at home. Who can afford, or wants to spend $30 for a pound of sugar? Why spend the money when the ingredients are nearby?
To make vanilla sugar, assemble the following items:
About 1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 fresh vanilla bean*, cut in half lengthwise and then into several cross sections
1 pint canning jar, lid, and ring
Place a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the jar. Then add a few vanilla pieces to the jar.
Add additional sugar, about 1/3 cup, and alternate with additional cut vanilla beans. Repeat until sugar and vanilla pieces are in the jar. There should be about an inch of space at the top to allow room for movement. Shake the sugar jar every couple of days for the next four weeks. Shaking the jar causes the oh-so-small vanilla bean seeds to find their way into the sugar. Once the four weeks are over remove the vanilla bean pieces. You may wish to scrape any remaining bean seeds into the sugar, but dispose of the exterior bean pieces. Recap the sugar. For summer enjoy in iced tea, strawberry shortcake, and in cookies. Especially sugar cookies.
*Note: A fresh vanilla bean will be pliable and bend with slight pressure.