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quality vanilla pods @ Costco

I know this is after the holiday baking season, but still worth checking out.

Costco has the Rodelle Vanilla pods 10 for about $11. (Years ago I paid close to $4 for a single bean at a specialty gourmet store, egad!) Costco usually only stocks the beans in the fall. This year they are nicely packaged nicely in 2 glass vials. It would have been a great gift (or still can be) for the baker in your life. You could buy the the package to split.....keeping one vial for yourself and one to give away.

I have been quite impressed with the quality of Rodelle vanilla beans. They are packaged as "Bourbon Madagascar" beans. The pods are thick, moist, supple, long & heavily scented. I still have a couple pods left from the batch I purchased last year from Costco and they are still supple (I've kept them in their glass bottle with the top twisted tight). They match the quality of the beans I was given by my sister who vacationed in Tahiti years back.

I've used the beans for creme brulee, rolled sugar cookies, delicate tuiles, frosting & pastry creme to name a few. I also either throw the spent pods into my sugar cannister where it does great things scenting it (though it does cause the sugar to clump a bit till it dries out, but I don't mind). Or, I bend the empty pods in half and shove them into my bulk & small vanilla extract bottles and whenever I need a teaspoon of extract I give the bottle a shake and I can see the tiny seeds in my measuring spoons.

What recipes are folks using their vanilla beans in?

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  1. Yeah the price at the grocery store is out of sight for a few dried shriveled pods. I have had good results buying Madagascar Grade A Boubon vanilla pods from an ebay source. I think I paid around $40 shipped for 1 lb. Well over 100 pods. They are long moist and fragrant.

    1. A couple of years ago, prices for vanilla pods skyrocketed for a little while (possibly due to weather phenomena?) and I can recall that I purchased a single Spice Islands pod for over six bucks. I don't have, or need, a Costco membership, but with that deal I might just have to have somebody pick some up for me at the neighborhood behemoth.

      1. vodka. There was a thread here on infused vodka, I think. Vanilla vodka with orange juice --- fancy boozy orange Julius, thank you!
        I like to add vanilla to a homemade chai tea, too.
        Thanks for the Costco tip - we just joined.

        1. Thanks for the tip...I need vanilla beans and was planning a Costco trip this weekend anyhow..hope the AZ Costcos have the same item!

          1. I just found the beans in Costco this afternoon. I didn't really expect to see them there, but thought I would look anyway. I am thrilled. I am using them for homemade Kahlua.

            1. I looked at the Chandler, AZ costco yesterday but didnt' see them. Were they somewhere other than with the bottles of vanilla?

              1. Thanks for the tip, This is what I predict will happen. I go to Costco for vanilla beans. And I save a few dollars on the vanilla beans. And I figure that while I am there, I will look around a little. And I then proceed to spend twice what I saved on the beans. I can never win. Road trip this weekend.

                1. Inspired by this post, Iooked for the vanilla beans at my southern California Costco on Saturday -- to no avail. Nevertheless, I spent the requisite $100.

                  P.S.: I have a friend who lives south of London. She told me that whenever she goes to Costco -- and who knew they had Costco stores in England? -- she spends 100 POUNDS (about TWO hundred dollars).

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: ozhead

                    Forget England, they have Costco in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, also, but somehow I get the feeling that the Japanese Costcos don't sell the commercially-made sushi with fake crab that they do here in New York.

                    And I will be on the hunt for the beans this weekend for sure...Does anyone know how long they stay okay if not opened and what's the best way to store unused ones once the package is opened?

                    1. re: Shayna Madel

                      The best way to store them would be in a vacuum sealed package in the pantry (the freexer tends to dry them out). When I did before getting a vacuum sealer (and I just bought the simple Reynolds Handi-Vac) was using the Press-n-Seal wrap to "seal" each bean individually, with 5 beans to a "sheet". Then I rolled them up and stuck them in a zip-top bag. I've had them for almost 2 years and they are still soft and fragrant.

                      1. re: leanneabe

                        Finally, a reason to buy the Handi-Vac. Yay.

                      2. re: Shayna Madel

                        I have a remaining bottle with 3 leftover Rodelle brand beans purchased from Costco, Fall 2006. I am happy to say they are still supple, easy to split and scrape for seeds. The 2006 packaging of the beans was a basic clear glass bottle with a screw top. I used the beans as needed and screwed the top back on tightly and kept the bottle in a cool dark part of my pantry. Though I did save the foam inner "safety seal" liner and replaced it on the lip of the bottle each time I screwed top down tightly. I don't know if the cushy-ness of it helped with keeping the bottle airtight.

                        I've attached a photo that I found of the "new" double vial packing offered now. (Someone is selling them for a markup on ebay I discovered.)

                      3. re: ozhead

                        Sounds about right, I'm in the UK and it is usually £50 at Costco every couple of weeks for a few steaks, a bottle of claret, and the small odd or end.

                      4. Yup..I just spotted them this weekend and snapped up a pack. Amazing price. I'm going to make a nice French Vanilla icecream and use some sour cherries (from the summer) to make a warm compote to pour over.


                        1. try the mexican beans
                          longer beans have stronger flavor

                          1. I got the vanilla beans at the Westbury, Long Island Costco, for $11.89. They're not labeled Madagascar and actually say on the back that they are from New Guinea, but so cheap they cannot be that bad. Next to the vanilla beans was a 16-ounce bottle of Kirkland (Costco brand) Madagascar vanilla, for $6. Definitely said Madagascar on the label. I always buy Neilsen-Massey Madagascar vanilla that seems to be running around $14 for an 8-ounce bottle.

                            Does anyone know if "Madagascar vanilla" is "Madagascar vanilla" and it does not matter what brand it is--in other words, does it matter what brand, so long as it is Madagascar vanilla?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Shayna Madel

                              I'm certainly no expert on vanilla, but I will tell you this: That $6 Madagascar vanilla extract ruined several batches of frosting, and made worse a few baked goods. It was just too strong or something. I ended up tossing the bottle.

                              1. re: milklady

                                Seemed too good to be true. Clearly not worth the risk. Now I wonder about the beans, as there seems to be a split of opinion here. Oh, well...

                                1. re: Shayna Madel

                                  I know. I really thought it would be great. But I actively hated it. I have no idea about the beans...

                            2. I bought some of the Rodelle Vanilla beans from Costco and found them very disappointing in comparison to say, Penzey's. The Rodelle beans have a very muted aroma (that almost smells a bit plastic-like to me) and flavor. Not worth it, even at that price.