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Vanilla Bean Sources

I guess this belongs on this board....

Has anyone tried buying vanilla beans on eBay? I bookmarked the Arizona Vanilla Company but haven't bought anything from them. Is there a better place to get them? Penzeys? How long do they last, anyways?

thanks

oh-this is all under the assumption that what my grocery store has is crap. I have access to TJ and Whole Foods but don't usually shop there.

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  1. I believe this place has been recommended on this board:

    http://www.saffron.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: critter101

      Wow, that Saffron place looks like a good deal! But do I read that right? $20 for restaurants and $29 for “gourmet” use? How would they know?

      Just for reference, here in VA, Martin’s has 3 beans for $12. Outrageous!

      1. re: critter101

        It's now next year --- and we just returned from San Francisco with our dozen vanilla beans that we bought at Xanath, which is the saffron (and vanilla bean) importer in critter101's post. They seem of wonderful quality, plump and aromatic, and I've just put one, quartered and split, to flavor 2 cups of sugar. The rest are in a ziploc awaiting inspiration. And the price! They cost $9.50! and are Tahitian, which was my choice. They have other kinds as well. Also bought saffron from them, but haven't tried it yet. Valencia Street, in the Mission District.

      2. I purchased a pound of Gourmet Gr A Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans from http://stores.ebay.com/Vanilla-Produc... on ebay last year. Very happy with the price and product. The beans were very long subtle and the flavor was excellent. I paid around $35 for a pound of beans. That would have bought me around a dozen small dried up beans in the local food store and I got over 100 really nice ones for that price.

        1. I always buy from these guys: http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/organic...
          Cheap, fast shipping, great quality, definitely recommended!

          I just checked on the few I have left and they've lasted the year with only a slight reduction in quality (pliability that is, they still have a really strong aroma) I've heard if they dry up though you can just soak them in water and they're good as new.

          1 Reply
          1. re: AndrewK512

            It's true. The soak in water and good as new thing. Was cleaning out my spices the other day and discovered my Penzey's vanilla beans were rock hard. My fault; I hadn't stored them properly. Check the boards here to see what was recommended. One suggestion was to wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave for a bit. That didn't work for me, I suspect because I had a bunch of them. It might work for just a single bean or two. Anyway, I soaked the beans in water for about half an hour then dried and vacuum sealed them. They look, smell, and feel just as I'd want them to.

          2. I bought some very nice looking ones at Costco that were well priced, but I've not used them yet.

            5 Replies
            1. re: MMRuth

              Please check back when you do. I saw them at Costco and was wondering about the quality.

              1. re: Fritter

                Costco is closing out on their imported whole vanilla beans, 10 for $5.97, a real deal. I bought several last week.

                1. re: cstr

                  Wow! Thanks. I'll swing by today and scoop some up!

                  1. re: Fritter

                    I bought several 10 packs. Incredible savings at half Costco's original price.

                    1. re: cstr

                      Hmmm they must be different here. The ones I saw today were two viles for $12 but the expiration date was very soon.

            2. I have been very happy with Penzey's vanilla beans; I have purchased each variety. Be sure to save the pods once you've scraped them and put them in a small sealed container with some white granulated sugar!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Kater

                Me, too! And ditto on the vanilla sugar recommendation. Penzey's is my favorite spice source.

              2. I've bought from Arizona Vanilla (through their website, not eBay), and I think they're great--very good beans at an excellent price. I keep them in a dark, sealed container, and I keep them around for months with no noticeable decline in quality.