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Dec 30, 2009 07:26 PM

unbelievable deals on vanilla beans and extract at Xanath [Mission District, San Francisco]

Xanath, the new-ish ice cream place in the Mission (SF), is owned by a saffron and vanilla importer. They sell vanilla beans and extract at an extraordinary discount. A pint of organic vanilla extract is $14; an 8-ounce jar is $11. A pound of vanilla beans is $26, and a quarter-pound of beans -- looked like well over a dozen -- is $9.50. Same price for Mexican or Tahitian beans/extract.

They sell flavored sugars and saffron, too, but I don't know average prices elsewhere or how theirs compare.

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  1. Thank you for the info!

    1. So they double as a retail outlet for Vanilla Saffron Imports across the street? That's great, no shipping charges. Do they also have the dried mushrooms?

      Xanath Ice Cream
      949 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I saw the saffron. Didn't notice any dried mushrooms.

      2. That can't be real Tahitian vanilla at those prices - plenty of unscrupulous wholesalers sell what they call "Tahitian vanilla," but it's actually grown in Papua New Guinea. Some of the PNG vanilla may be grown from V. Tahitensis plants, but it's very poor quality in comparison to the real stuff from Tahiti. Beware counterfeit Tahitian vanilla!

        4 Replies
        1. re: wahine33

          I just bought 1/4 lb. of these vanilla beans for $9.50, as noted above. Labeled as "Planifolia," which I believe is the same as Tahitian vanilla. It doesn't say anything about country of origin on the label. I didn't notice that there were two different types of vanilla beans being sold, and the girl who was working there didn't mention it.

          Can't speak to the quality, as I haven't used any yet, but it sure seems like a great deal to me.

          1. re: abstractpoet

            From their web page I get the impression that they are Mexican vanilla beans.
            Vanilla Planifolia (*the true vanilla ) (Fragrans, old name)
            Vanilla planifolia, is indigenous to Mexico, where it is pollinated by tiny humming birds and a bee called Melipona . When it was transplanted to other parts of the world it did not produce beans until it was discovered that the small orchid blooms could be pollinated by hand.
            The birds and the bees work for less than hand pollinators and are probably not unionized.

            1. re: abstractpoet

              Sorry, very late to the conversation. "Bourbon" vanilla is from the subspecies vanilla planifolia (originally from Mexico, now mostly from Madagascar). The variety grown in Tahiti is vanilla tahitensis. if you got "planifolia" from, it comes from Papua New Guinea.

              1. re: kz59

                To change the subject slightly -- what do people think about the difference between "Bourbon" vanilla and Tahitian vanilla? I happen to strongly dislike Tahitian vanilla, but from the way it's touted, it seems that I'm in a minority.

          2. you can also ask for a free vanilla bean (although it's expected this won't be abused)

            1. I'd emailed with last weekend's saffron emergency asking if I could pick up in person on Friday afternoon. I was directed to their store, Xanath, then I remembered the ties. Besides a 5 gram box for myself, I also bought saffron bubble packs for stocking stuffers.

              This was my first time to Xanath, so I had to try the ice cream. I sampled two different vanillas --- both ungodly sweet. I settled on the special flavor of the day, saffron ginger. Only $3 for a single scoop, and while made with Straus organic base, this had several chunks of ice. And after a couple spoonfuls, I found this too sugary as well.
              M-F 12:00 pm until 10:00pm