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Jul 16, 2009 10:25 AM

what to do with grade b tahitian vanilla beans?

hey chowhounds,

i ordered some madagascar vanilla beans online. they arrived yesterday along with ten (small but free!) grade b tahitian vanilla beans.

i am planning to make madagascar vanilla extract (four beans/1 cup vodka) and then baking/cooking with the rest of the madagascar beans.

what should i do with the tahitian beans? can i MIX the beans when making extract? (i don't think so) ... should i make a separate extract?



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  1. Stick a few beans in 5 lbs of sugar and enjoy vanilla sugar in EVERYTHING!
    Add to your coffe grounds for a nice fresh brew.
    Add to a tub of plain Greek yogurt
    Add to cocktails

    1. Yes to all of Hiilj's suggestions w/ the addition of a vanilla simple syrup- very versatile in many uses and will keep in the fridge for @ least a month. adam

      1. I wouldn't hesitate to mix the beans for the extract--I don't think you would be able to tell the difference between Tahitian extract and Madagascar extract in the typical finished product. You probably know this, but the grade of the beans refers only to their size. I often use these smaller beans, and aside from the fact that you have to use more of them due to their small size, I can't tell a difference even in vanilla-centric dishes like creme anglaise or ice cream. When I smell/taste beans from Tahiti and Madagascar side by side, they do seem a bit different, with the Tahitian ones being a bit more floral. But again, in the finished product I can't say that I would be able to pick out the difference in anything other than a side-by-side tasting. The dfifference from Mexican beans seems more noticable, with the latter having a simpler, almost artificial vanilla flavour.

        2 Replies
        1. re: zamorski

          I've used Tahitian vanilla extract and the differences remain - if anything they're more pronounced, in my experience. Broadly speaking I'd say the Bourbon is heavier but more nuanced, the Tahitian is, as you say, floral, but also makes a more fleeting impression. I would think they'd mix well, but I'd make the extracts separately. That way you can use either separately and/or blend them. Blending them blind, for the first time, may or may not produce felicitous results.

          Fwiw, I don't know what industry standards - if they exist - are like, but 4 beans per cup of alcohol seems too few, I think it'll be much weaker than commercial extract.

          1. re: zamorski

            FYI: The grade of the bean does NOT refer to it length but instead the color of the bean and the plumpness (oil and moisture content) of the bean. The length is a separate factor that adds to the cost of the bean, but a 5" Grade A bean and a 7" Grade A bean have the same quality. The reason the 7" costs more is because you get 2 more inches of "caviar" and bean. A Grade B or Extract grade bean is less moist, less pliable, and less oily.

            I have both Grade A & Grade B beans of the same variety and side by side there is a noticeable difference. The Grade B beans are thinner, slightly less pliable, and not as fragrant as the Grade A beans. I will definitely add Grade A beans in my existing Grade B extract after I have "used them up."

            As for mixing the Madagascar and the Tahitian - I don't see why not. Madagascar beans are the more fragrant and longer-lasting flavor, the Tahitian are more delicate and floral. Tahitian is what is used in soaps and and perfumes because it is less overpowering. I will be making two batches of pudding this week - one of each variety - to see what the flavor difference really is. Then I'll probably just shove all the spent beans in liquor and let them do their thing, variety be damned.

          2. hi all,

            thank you SO much for the great responses...i may try making a small batch of extract with the tahitian beans and then another batch with the madagascar beans just to see the difference...

            5 Replies
            1. re: lilaki

              Not entirely related, but somewhat - and I can't find a separate thread on this (please direct me to one if I've missed it), but where is the best place to buy vanilla beans? They're a fortune at Whole Foods, so I was hoping to buy some online, but I'm not really sure what kind to buy or who from.

              This seems almost too good to be true - 25 beans for $10?

              And Beanilla sells theirs on Amazon, are they a good source?

              I've never cooked with vanilla beans before, but I really want to make my own extract and a few vanilla bean baked items. Thanks!

              1. re: MPJ


                No need to break the bank on top quality, fresh vanilla beans or saffron.
                This is my go to source and the gal who runs the company is a v-bean rockstar!

                1. re: MPJ

                  I bought mine on ebay from Vanilla Products USA - they sell under two names - vanillaproducts for the more expensive Madagascar beans, larger quantity Tahitian beans, and Grade B of both; and greenerdogjr for smaller quantities of the Tahitian Grade A ($3.98 for 1 dozen beans shipped in the USA). I got them in 2-3 days (they are in PA, I'm in CT) and they're amazing. I will buy from them again when I run out of these beans, and with the 4 dozen that I bought for less than $20 total, it'll be a long time before that happens.

                  1. re: MPJ

                    I have bought off Arizona Vanilla before.
                    I originally bought their product off ebay I think.

                    You can buy pretty large quantities there. If you can find some friends to go in with you, you can save by buying a pound or so.

                2. Just use them in your favorite recipe that calls for vanilla extract. I like fresh scraped beans over extract. Even add it to french toast. Makes it extra special