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Where to Buy Vanilla Beans?

Does anyone have any suggestions where I can buy fairly priced vanilla beans from Madagascar? I want to make my own extract. I know vanilla beans are expensive, but I wanted to see where I could get the most beans for my buck.

I went to Trader Joe's, Harris Teeter, and Giant and none of these stores sold them (at least the stores around me). William Sonoma had a bottle of 2 beans for $8.50 and Wegmans had a bottle for around $10. I ended up buying the bottle from William Sonoma. But I'd like to make more... Any other suggestions for specialty stores or even online sites?

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  1. How about Penzey's? That's where I buy mine. If they don't have a storefront in your area, you can buy online:
    http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

    $7.25 for 3 Madagascar vanilla beans
    $28.65 for 15 of 'em

    Truth be told, I don't make my own extract, either. I use their double-strength vanilla extract and love it--it's worth every penny to me.
    http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

    3 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      I second buying them from Penzey's. The Rockville store isn't that hard to find, even if Rockville Pike is a bear on the weekends.

      1. re: kattyeyes

        Thank you for posting about Penzey's. I visited there last week and they were amazing! You can smell each of the spices before buying. And the double strength vanilla extract made me swoon. I may try some of the suggestions for buying online as well. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions!

        1. re: TunaNow

          I could be the (unpaid) poster child for Penzey's. So glad you enjoyed--visiting a store in person and being able to smell everything is its own good time for sure! :)

      2. I buy them from Super WalMart. At my local Super WalMart (Cockeysville, MD) they come two per bottle labeled "Gourmet Collection McCormick Madagascar Vanilla Beans".

        1. I bought my last ones from Costco. I can't remember what I paid, but thought it was a great price at the time. I think the brand was Rodelle.

            1. I bought a bottle with a 2-3 beans from BJ's. I can't remember how much exactly they cost but according to my husband who was with me, it was a "good deal."