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Feb 22, 2011 08:33 AM

Are vanilla beans edible?

After I've scraped out the seeds, I've been drying my beans, grinding them up in a food processer, and incorporating them in things like graham cracker pie crusts, sugar cookies, and whipped cream and meringues.

But my question is ... is it safe to do so? Are vanilla beans edible?

And, if they are, what do you do with them (if anything)?

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  1. Yes, they are. Deliciously so! :-)

    14 Replies
    1. re: chefathome

      What a relief.

      Any tips on what to do with them, beside the aforementioned?

      1. re: ipsedixit

        bury the still-moist pods, just roughly chopped, in a cup of sugar to get vanilla sugar.

        Or put them in a package of ground coffee...heavenly vanilla coffee.

        let them steep in any dessert sauce or preparation -- custard, sauce anglaise, etc., etc. -- excellent flavor there.

        1. re: sunshine842

          i'm not a fan of flavored coffee, but i heartily second the suggestions for vanilla sugar or a dessert sauce (cream, custard or ganache).

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Yup, I've done all those -- steeping, infusing sugar and spices, etc.

            But I'm after ideas for actually eating these things, not just sucking the life and aroma out of them ...

            As an aside, after I've steeped or buried them in sugar, I suppose I can still dry them up, grind, and incorporate them into desserts, pastries, etc., right? Stil enough flavor there?

            1. re: ipsedixit

              i have no idea if you could still get enough worthwhile flavor out of them *after* those applications. i've dried & ground them just after scraping the seeds, but once i steep them or bury in sugar, they really do seem to lose most of their aroma so i toss them. but hey, why not try it and tell us? :)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Yeah, after steeping (in either liquids or spices) they might be too moist or, ahem, damp to be repurposed, right?

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  well at least it won't be salty moisture :)

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Not unless you wipe your brow with them ..

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      hey GHG, seems like you know a lot about food and the west coast in general. I am planning a trip to LA, San Fran and San Diego. Would love to get your recommendations food-wise. I like healthy food, not too greasy, and was wondering if you could suggest a few places. Thanks!

                      1. re: thehealthyfoodie

                        i'll be happy to, but you should look through the existing threads on healthy food for each city first, and once you've seen the info that's already available you can start new ones on the appropriate boards based on the input you still need...and once you post them, i'll certainly chime in on SD & LA since i've lived in both cities within the past couple of years.

                        one bit of advice though, be as *specific* as you can about where you're staying, your budget, the types of cuisine you like, and whether or not you'll have a car...otherwise you'll just get asked all those questions before anyone can suggest anything! these cities are so spread out that it helps to narrow the focus as much as possible.

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I don't like *artificially* flavored coffee -- but friends of ours make vanilla coffee, and it's gorgeous -- the vanilla flavor is there, but it pleasant and enjoyable. None of that beating you about the head and shoulders then hanging out as a chemical aftertaste to make sure that you don't squeal that comes with artificially-flavored coffee. (Yeah, Starbucks, I'm talkin to you.)

            2. re: ipsedixit

              OK - I've used them for years in various ways as I love them so much. Stored in granulated sugar, of course, but also in brown sugar. As I make vanilla extract with vodka, bourbon or rum I throw the extra pods into that. I've also ground them to add to meat rubs as well as vanilla brines for pork. Homemade vanilla bean ice cream is one of my favourites. Also love it in Panna Cotta or basic things such as brownies and chocolate chip cookies. I also infuse simple syrup with them which is lovely on fresh fruit, cakes, pavlovas and so on. It also goes well with lemongrass syrup drizzled over fruit.

              1. re: chefathome

                Can I come over drink your bourbon and eat? Holy yum.

          2. You can stick the bean in a bottle of rum, vodka, jug of milk, jar of coffee beans, etc.
            All edible parts. I have a vanilla bean devoid of 99% of the seeds in a jug of coconut oil right now and it's infusing beautifully.

            4 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              I've infused them in many, many things but have yet to try coconut oil. What an awesome idea!

              1. re: chefathome

                chefathome, I typically let recipes guide me. I look at an ingredients list and if the list contains ingredients that will be paired in the recipe then I'm willing to bet they can be prepd together. One of the muffin recipes we include in our breakfast tray contains this infused oil. We still add the v. seeds to the batter but the infused oil helps to bring the vanilla flavor out.

                1. re: HillJ

                  Vanilla Salt + Caramel Pot De Creme.

                  I infused some coarse Celtic Sea Salt and it's tasty.

                  Of course there's also the massive jar of vanilla sugar, and my homemade vanilla extract (in a 100 year old bottle)

                  1. re: HillJ

                    I do that to but for some dumb reason didn't think of it. Oh, the possibilities of vanilla-infused coconut oil! Wow.

              2. I get a triple use out of them. First the seeds themselves, then I put the bean pods into something dry like sugar, and then finally, once the pods are completely dried out, I remove and grind them. Surprising that after all that, they still have a lovely vanilla perfume scent. I have tried to find new ways to use the ground vanilla powder. Believe it or not, I like it for savory things like cream sauces. My favorite, though, is still simply sprinkled onto whipped cream over egg crepes. Was thinking I might try it in a simple dressing for spinach salad with strawberries next.

                1. Vanilla beans infuse honey nicely too.