Flavour Your Favourite Amaro With A Spent Vanilla Bean

Photo: Claire Lower

Vanilla beans are expensive. There is no getting around it. Vanilla beans are also delicious - yet another unavoidable truth. These hard facts make me reluctant to ever toss a pod, not matter how devoid of seeds it is. After I have methodically scraped every little speck of vanilla seed out of the bean, I gaze at its spent husk, wondering what to do with the precious, costly plant part.

Fortunately, there are a lot of options. You could chuck it in a jar of sugar, and make vanilla-scented sugar. You can gently heat it in some cream to make vanilla cream. Or you could do what I did, and place it back in its jar, cover it with Fernet-Branca liqueur, and forget about it for a couple of weeks.

When you come back, having finally remembered this genius action of yours, you will find your Fernet (or whatever amaro you used) is now infused with the delightful flavour and aroma of real vanilla.

It’s not sweeter, but it does feel a little more inviting. If you’re a fan of the more bitter amari, you’ll find some of that bitterness has been tamed.

It doesn’t taste like a dessert drink, but it’s reminiscent of dessert, giving the digestif an even stronger “after dinner” vibe. To make your very own vanilla-infused amaro, you will need:

  • 1 spent vanilla pod, scraped of its seeds

  • 2-3 ounces of your favourite amaro (I like Fernet!)

  • A small jar (Either the one the pod came in, or something just large enough to hold the bean and amaro.)

Put the pod in the jar. Put the amaro in the jar. Make sure you add enough amaro to completely submerge the pod. Close the jar, place it in a cool, dry place, and forget about it for a week (or longer).

The infusion is done when your amaro starts to taste like vanilla, so give it a little nip. Drink it as you normally would (over one big cube of frozen water) or add it to your coffee drink of choice.


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