HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
What have you made lately? Get great advice

Where do you buy your real vanilla beans?

galka Feb 5, 2009 12:06 PM

Thank you!

  1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Feb 5, 2009 12:34 PM

    Penzey's on Mass Ave in Arlington.

    4 Replies
    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
      BostonZest Feb 5, 2009 02:54 PM

      I'll second Penzey's but I also had a nice one from Costco last year.

      1. re: BostonZest
        DoubleMan Feb 5, 2009 07:07 PM

        Third. Three plump and not-folded beans for $8. Can't beat 'em.

      2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
        rmperry Feb 7, 2009 03:07 AM

        Penzey's has an online presence as well if you don't live near Arlington.

        1. re: rmperry
          c oliver Jan 27, 2013 12:33 PM

          And Penzeys now has free shipping on orders over $30. I don't seem to have any trouble hitting that number :)

      3. t
        treb Feb 6, 2009 03:32 AM

        Costco has them, you get 2 vials with 5 pods in each, $10.99. A great deal.

        1. t
          tlk Feb 6, 2009 04:29 AM

          Christina's on Cambridge St. in Inman Square. I used beans from there last winter to make, literally, the best vanilla extract I've ever had.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tlk
            mvi Jan 27, 2013 12:22 PM

            I also get them at Christina's and love their vanilla beans. Plus, I load up with other treats when I go.

          2. b
            BackBayGirl Feb 6, 2009 06:02 AM

            I think that Harvest Co-op has them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BackBayGirl
              Snowflake Jan 29, 2013 06:51 AM

              Yesterday Harvest had them for 2.99 ea. They look good although I haven't split them yet.

            2. BobB Feb 6, 2009 06:54 AM

              I've gotten decent ones from Trader Joe's.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BobB
                nytransplant Feb 6, 2009 04:00 PM

                whole foods.

              2. aadesmd Feb 8, 2009 10:22 AM


                Have bought many vanilla beans on ebay, of all places. Cannot remember the name of the merchant, but my preference is for Tahitian beans, which I find to be more complex and nuanced. About 32.00 for 100 beans. I freeze them and have found no decrease in quality.

                2 Replies
                1. re: aadesmd
                  kimfair1 Jan 27, 2013 07:14 PM

                  We brought back a bunch of vanilla beans from Tahiti (actually the island of Ta'Haa) when we were there. The guy at the vanilla farm where I bought them suggested storing them in bottles of rum or vodka. This works really well. You take out what you need, and then return the rest to the booze. Of course you can drink the vanilla rum or vodka as well, just decant a bit more into the bottle to keep it full.

                  1. re: aadesmd
                    Boston_Otter Jan 29, 2013 03:14 PM

                    Same here. Super cheap, great quality. Go figure.

                  2. davis_sq_pro Jan 27, 2013 02:35 PM

                    Online. Prices totally blow away anything you can get locally. I use http://saffron.com (Not affiliated in any way, just a happy customer.)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: davis_sq_pro
                      tdaaa Jan 28, 2013 08:45 AM

                      I got all pissed off at paying 10bucks for a single skinny dried out bean at the grocery store, and went to amazon, where I got 1/2 lb of beautiful, fragrant, plump beans for about 20 dollars. Sealed some in plastic for future use, gave away handfulls, and put a bunch in a bottle of vodka just for fun. I still have the grocery store bean in its glass bottle just to remind me of what a rip-off it was.

                      1. re: tdaaa
                        Bob Dobalina Jan 29, 2013 05:55 AM

                        Yah, got a gift of vanilla beans similar to what tdaaa describes. I now have the largest Mason jar of vanilla extract known to man. (It's fancy lineage too - used Ketel One as the base.) I intend to disburse it as part of my will, because its contents will surely outlast me.

                    2. b
                      bear Jan 29, 2013 06:18 AM

                      I've bought vanilla beans at Capone's in Union Sq. for a little over $1 a piece and they were fresh and delicious. I bought several at the Cambridge store last month, and they were pretty dried out. They broke into several pieces when I split them.

                      'll stick with Costco or the Somerville Capone's.

                      1. gini Jan 29, 2013 08:59 AM

                        We made vanilla gelato on Sunday with beans from Whole Foods - totally delicious.

                        1. okra Jan 29, 2013 01:15 PM

                          Got mine to make homemade vanilla extract online here:


                          Fresh, plump, shipped in a vacuum pack, quickly. ~ $1.25 apiece if I recall correctly.

                          1. Science Chick Jan 29, 2013 02:39 PM

                            Just got a great deal on these at WF today. 3 gorgeous sticky ones from Madegascar (Madecasse brand) for only $5.99! Don't know how long the sale will be on for, but I used one today for a rice pudding and it was good. They are wrapped in a ziploc bag, inside a jar, so sealed well.

                            BTW, I really like the Madecasse company for chocolate. Good fair trade practices and some of the best chocolate I've ever had......

                            Show Hidden Posts