Even though these jet-black pods are vacuum packed to retain their freshness, the heady scent of vanilla still manages to permeate through the air as you pull the packaging out of its sliver tube. You can add a pod to a jar of sugar and shake it from time to time for a great jar of vanilla sugar, or you can flavour puddings with the pods, which are strong enough to be washed, dried and used a few times more. Possibly the best way to use a vanilla pod is to steep it in hot milk, cool and then refrigerate the milk (pod still soaking) overnight. The following day, remove the pod, split it and cast the thousands of little seeds into the milk with the back of a knife. From this wonderful infusion you can make the kind of vanilla ice cream that will have you standing in the kitchen, eating the result of your efforts until you hear a strange little noise and realise that it’s your spoon scraping the bottom of the tub.