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Where to Buy Vanilla Beans?

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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 buy mine online at:

            http://bostonvanillabeans.com/

            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."

              1. Another vote for online.

                I hit up some sellers on Amazon that looked shadier then they are. Got a jar of several dozen long, monstrous Madagascar beans for $11 last year that I'm still working through. Well-sealed in mason jars, the beans are still giving off fantastic oodles of flavor for my baked goods and ice creams.

                1. I see them at World Market and think - wow, those are really cheap. Then when I need one I go to Safeway and spend $11 on two in the McCormick jar.

                  1. I highly recommend Vanilla Products USA - either from their website or from e-bay, same price and service - I just ordered my third batch from them and I have been immensely pleased with their product quality, prices, shipping time, and communication. I ordered one day, received an e-mail confirmation, and the product was in my mailbox two days later.
                    I bought the Tahitian Grade B - 1 lb ($12 US plus $5 shipping for about 150 beans), then decided I wanted to try the Bourbon (Madagascar) Grade B so I ordered a pound ($22 US plus $5) I was sent a small package of grade A beans as a "gift with order" and the only difference I can notice is the grade A beans are a little fatter. (An aside - The aroma and flavor difference between Tahitian and Madagascar Bourbon is discernible and I prefer Tahitian in baking, ice cream, custards, extract) I vacuum seal the pounds into smaller batches to keep them fresher.
                    They sell in smaller quantities than 1lb, but I have found everyone appreciates the gift of vanilla beans ;-)