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Dried Out Vanilla Beans

SOMEBODY (i.e. not me) has left a container that held almost half a pound of good-quality vanilla beans, and I am NOT pleased! They are completely dry and brittle now. I've already filled up a vodka bottle up with some, but I still have a lot left. Is there anything I can do with these?

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  1. I had about a .25 pound that someone left open, name will not be named. I snipped them in half and added them to my quart size Vanilla extract that i refill from the gallon. They make a difference (though ever diminishing) in the the flavor and add seeds to the extract.
    Next I will add them to a container of sugar.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chefj

      Wasn't it infuriating when it happened?! Good thing I have an exceptionally low BP. I did exactly do what you mentioned - added them to vanilla extract. Sugar I already have a container that I had scrapped out the innards before this incident - I didn't know I could add whole pods though.

      1. re: uwsister

        YES IT IS! I have a really hard time getting them to close anything tightly, spices, cornichons, mustard and the list goes on.
        I did not add whole pods to either the extract or the sugar. Before I added the dried out pods to the extract I cut them in half so the seeds would be released into the liquid.
        You can also use then in any custard base. Just cut or break them in half and give them some extra time to steep in the dairy, then either scrape or squeeze what you can from them and continue with eggs, sugar etc...

    2. You can grind dry beans in a coffee grinder to make a vanilla bean powder and use it while brewing your ground coffee beans, add to baked goods, meat rubs. But I would store them in about two inches of dark rum to bring them back to plump life. Also if you use the CHOW tip and cut the tips of the beans off prior to adding them to a jar of rum once plump you can literally squeeze the vanilla beans out like a "straw"

      15 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        OK. The rum thing? That's the greatest thing I've read all day. I am running out to get a bottle of dark rum tomorrow. Honestly if that works, this issue is pretty much solved unless someone has a fantastic idea.

          1. re: HillJ

            And that video was the greatest video I've ever seen today and I spent two hours on YouTube today.

            I imagine since my pods are totally dry I could soak them up in a little more than two inches of rum, no?

            1. re: uwsister

              Believe it or not, more than two inches won't be necessary. The pods require time for soaking but the amt. they need to soak up is small. Start with 2 inches and then decide. A month from now, you're going to be very pleased.

              1. re: HillJ

                Didn't work worth a darn for me, and mine weren't as dried out as the OP's. They've been in there for months and no vanilla goop is forthcoming.

                1. re: jvanderh

                  Poor quality pods? When you cut open the pod was it filled with seeds? Are the pods super shiny and moist inside and out?

                  I have about 40 pods, which started out well over a year sitting in a bag, now sitting in a jar with 2 inches of dark rum and every single pod is shiny, moist and when squeezed ooze thick vanilla seeds. Took about a month to get to that point and have remained in my pantry happy, moist and lovely.

                  so, jv, I'm not sure what your beans story is. I buy all of my vanilla beans from:
                  http://www.theposter.com/vanilla2.html

                  1. re: HillJ

                    They could be poor quality. I'm not much of a connoisseur. I think they're from Amazon. They're pretty shiny, but they're not moist. Definitely not plump. The alcohol got dark, but it didn't seem to get sucked up into the beans. I'll let them sit around a little longer just in case they're going to do anything.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      success!! Vanilla goop!! It just took 4 months!

                      1. re: jvanderh

                        YEAH! Them were some dry beans, jvanderh! But that goop is gold, enjoy!

                        Mine go right into the jar with dark rum (2 inches) the minute I buy em. No chance of them drying out or getting lost behind some dark recess of my pantry!

                      2. re: HillJ

                        Thanks for your info. I also appreciate the link. I bought a few through Amazon and they smelled just amazing. I am making extract out of them. I ordered more beans through Amazon but froma different supplier. THese beans smell a little *off* so I'll try soaking in rum when I locate a glass jar.

            2. re: HillJ

              This is why I love chowhound. I just found two vanilla beans languishing in my spice cabinet and was wondering if I could bring them back to life - and now I know how. LOVE IT!

              1. re: biondanonima

                Works like a charm! Glad the tips are useful, bio!

              2. re: HillJ

                I was just given a large bag of vanilla beans from a friend who was traveling in Madagascar and brought them back from her friend's farm. They're a bit dried out so I was wondering how to get them back and now i can't WAIT to go home and set this up! Yay!

                1. re: mitsy4400

                  mitsy4400, this method workds like a charm, just remember to be a bit patient for the results. (3-4 months)....sometimes longer depending on how dry the v. beans are to begin with. Good luck!

                  1. re: mitsy4400

                    You were just given a large bag of vanilla beans from a friend who was traveling in Madagascar? I can only think of one way to thank this friend and I can't say here what that is.

                2. And if you still have some left, use a dried-up vanilla pod or two when making hibiscus tea (aka jamaica or bissap). Whatever the language, it's wonderful stuff. I add some sugar to drink alone as sweet tea, to add half-and-half to lemonade, or to splash into sparkling wine to make a hibiscus kir.

                  1. I don't want to hijack this thread but how do you store vanilla beans over a long period? Can you freeze them?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                      You can freeze them but over a long period of time they hold up quite well in two inches of dark rum.

                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        I had them in an airtight container and they remained moist and fragrant for quite a while. Until SOMEONE left it open!@#$

                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                          I ziploc em. Years in the pantry and always plump and fresh as new.

                        2. Revive them.

                          Do this.

                          Wrap them in a damp paper towel, roll into a tube, then wrap it again with plastic wrap, microwave for about 15-30 seconds at medium heat (time and temp will vary depending on your microwave), then let it steam in the paper towel for about 10 minutes until room temp.

                          Voila, Lazarus has brought you some vanilla beans!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            That sounds brilliant, but won't the nuking alter the texture of the beans? Or will they stay moist and pliable if stored properly afterwards?

                            1. re: Isolda

                              It will alter them and if you use this method prepare to use the beans immediately. Split the bean before wrapping. Use a water spray mist (not plastic in the microwave) and loosely wrap in paper or a brown bag works also. But for long term storing, store your beans vertically in a jar with 2 inches of dark rum, vodka or pure vanilla extract. I cut the tips from each end of the v. bean and it creates a straw effect that draws up the liquid they are sitting in keeping them plump, moist and flavorful.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                Thank you! I just had a huge dinner but your post makes me crave some kind of vanilla dessert.

                              2. re: Isolda

                                No, do no try to store these beans for more than a day or two after "reviving" them using the microwave.

                                Even Lazarus did not live forever ...