Have you ever seen a whole vanilla bean before? I hadn't. At least, not until I went bumbling into Publix searching through the produce department looking for one, before I finally broke down and asked the guy stocking the tomatoes where I might find it (if they even had one). He put down his tomatoes and took me to the spice aisle where I was introduced to two whole vanilla beans in a jar. For $8.
They're not cheap, these whole vanilla beans, but they're worth it. They added a nice little zip to the applesauce I made with the bounty from our orchard trip. I didn't know much about them before, but I'll be sure to keep them in mind for the future.
To make the applesauce, peel, core and roughly chop 7 apples. The original recipe called for 14, but I didn't think B and I needed that much applesauce.
Put them in a large pot. Pour the juice from half a lemon, and one cup of apple cider, over the chopped apples.
Add 1/8 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Now, bust out your expensive little vanilla bean. Slice lengthwise, then use the back of a knife to scrape the vanilla out of the pot. Put the vanilla, as well as the pod shell, into the pot also.
Turn the burner on medium heat and let simmer for 50-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once it looks a little like this, remove from heat and take out the pod:
Mash up any remaining large chunks of apples, let cool, then put into a container and in the refrigerator.
The verdict? Pretty good. B liked it, and he liked the subtle vanilla flavor. I liked it, but applesauce will never be my favorite. The vanilla bean gave it a little something extra, but I still have issues with the consistency of it. Instead, I'm going to use this goodness to put into some baked goods. Keep an eye out for those recipes!
You can see the original applesauce recipe here, on my coworker's blog, or you can see my version below.
Vanilla Bean Applesauce
1 cup apple cider
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 whole vanilla bean
Peel, core, and chop apples into chunks. Put into large pot.
Pour into pot the apple cider and lemon juice.
Add cinnamon and sugar.
Split vanilla bean lengthwise. Use the back of a knife to scrape out the vanilla into the pot. Throw the empty pod into the pot as well.
Cook over medium heat for 50-60 minutes. Enjoy the way your house smells.
Remove from heat and break up any large chunks of apples.
Use in any recipes that call for applesauce, or eat as a snack on its own.