How to use 100% of a vanilla bean, or, how to get the most out of a vanilla bean:
1. Make vanilla extract. Use 6 beans to 2 cups of alcohol. For Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract, use Madagascar beans and a good bourbon. Jack Daniels (whiskey) makes an excellent extract. You can also use 1/2 of Jack and 1/2 of a good vodka or rum. Split the bean lengthwise all except for the last inch, place the beans and liquor in a glass jar which has a tight fitting lid (or just drop the beans into the liquor bottle), and let sit in a cool dark place, giving the jar a swirl about once a week. Within a week you will have vanilla extract but it will not quite yet be the nice, dark amber extract, you would see in the commercial preps. In 6 weeks you will have the dark amber vanilla, and of course, the longer you allow the beans to sit in the alcohol, the stronger the vanilla will become, and you will then use less extract in your recipes due to the concentration. As you use the vanilla, you can continue to "top off" the extract with more bourbon/whiskey/vodka/rum. You should allow this to sit for a few weeks before using.
2. When you are finished with making the vanilla extract, remove the beans and place them on paper towels to "dry". Once dried, cut them in half or fourths and place the beans in a quart jar which is filled with white, granulated sugar, cover jar tightly, and store in a cool dry place for 4-6 weeks. Once a week or so, shake or stir the jar. After 6 weeks, taste the sugar and see if it is of a strong enough vanilla flavor for you. Return to the pantry if not strong enough and taste test weekly until to your liking.
3. Once the vanilla sugar is made, remove the beans from the sugar and gently tap them to remove most, but not all, of the sugar. Place the beans into the food processor or into an electric coffee grinder or spice grinder, and grind the beans into a powder. You can add some of the homemade vanilla extract, if desired, to make a vanilla bean paste, or, you can leave the beans as they are for vanilla powder. You can also place a teaspoon or so of this powder into the vanilla sugar you just made if you want a more intense vanilla sugar. You can use the finely ground beans to add to your recipes as you would with the extract.
And THAT is how you use 100% of a vanilla bean! No waste whatsoever!
I cook with wine.......sometimes I even add it to food!